Egypt’s military said on Wednesday that the country’s decades-old emergency law is designed to be in place until June 2012 as decreed by law, but left the door open to having it lifted or amended.
“The emergency law is ongoing and valid until June 2012, according to the law,” said General Adel Mursi, the head of military justice.
“However, it can be lifted or amended” according to a 2010 presidential decree issued when parliament — which is now dissolved– voted to extend the law for two years.
The controversial law — which has been continuously in place since Islamists assassinated president Anwar Sadat in 1981 — has been regularly extended under the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) recently widened the scope of the law — restricted in 2010 to narcotics and terrorism — to include labour strikes, traffic disruption and the spread of false information.
On Sunday, SCAF member Sami Enan was quoted as saying that “activating the emergency law was necessary given the unfortunate events the country witnessed on September 9 and it will stop being used as soon as possible.”
The decision to expand the law came after protesters clashed with police after demonstrators stormed a building housing the Israeli embassy, forcing the mission’s evacuation.
The military had promised that parliamentary elections scheduled by the end of the year would not be conducted under a state of emergency.