12 November 2013

Egypt Set to Lift State of Emergency

Photo: Xinhua/STR
An protester hurls stones at riot police (file photo).

Egypt's three-month state of emergency has been lifted two days ahead of schedule. It came on the back of a court ruling and despite continued clashes between police and supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.

The Egyptian interior ministry had set the end of the state of emergency, in place since August 14, to November 14. But a Cairo court found the application of the state of emergency's two-month renewal had been made on September 12, not September 14.

In a statement on Tuesday, the cabinet said it was "committed to executing the court ruling and is waiting to receive a copy of the ruling to execute it."

It does not, however, mean the end of the curfew forbidding citizens to leave their homes between 1am and 5am local time: "The armed forces have not been officially notified of any court rulings, and are committed to implementing the curfew within designated hours," the cabinet said in their statement.

Both the state of emergency and the curfew were introduced immediately after security forces ended two protests in favor of ousted former president and Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

The overthrow of Morsi in July led to a sustained period of violence, with the declaration of the state of emergency allowing authorities to both arrest citizens and search their homes without warrants.

Forces of the army-backed government have repeatedly clashed with Morsi supporters since his ousting, leaving hundreds dead.

Violence rolls on

On the same day the state of emergency was due to be lifted, Egyptian police reportedly used tear gas to break up a clash between rival protestors in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura. Security services say four people were hurt in the latest round of protests featuring Egyptian students.

Many of those left dead in the violence have been supporters of Morsi, either Islamists or members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi is one of a group of 15 - seven of which are still at large - charged with inciting the killing of 10 protestors in December 2012. The protestors had converged outside the presidential palace to demonstrate against Morsi's move to call a referendum on a new Islamist-drafted constitution.

The 62-year-old, who became Egypt's first democratically elected president in June 2012, faces several other charges, with his trial adjourned to January 8.

Morsi in talks with legal team

He had formerly rejected all legal counsel in protest, refusing to recognize the power of the court to try him. Despite that, Morsi met with a team of lawyers assembled by the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday. But son Osama Morsi, also a lawyer, said his father had still not agreed to any representation.

"He wants to take legal actions ... against others and not to defend himself," he said before the meeting with his father and four other lawyers.

Also on Tuesday, a striker for Egyptian football club Al-Ahly was suspended for making an Islamic salute upon scoring a goal in his side's win on Sunday. Ahmed Abdul Zaher scored the second goal for Al-Ahly in their win over South African club Orlando Pirates, promptly celebrating by making a four-fingered salute widely used by supporters of Morsi.

He has been fined and suspended from the club's Club World Cup campaign in December, and will be sold at the end of the season.

ph/jr (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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