DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Dec 8, 2012
CAIRO — Struggling to subdue continuing street protests, the government of President Mohamed Morsi has approved legislation reimposing martial law by calling on the armed forces to keep order and authorizing soldiers to arrest civilians, Egypt’s state media reported Saturday.
Mr. Morsi has not yet issued the order, the flagship state newspaper Al Ahram reported. But even if merely a threat, the preparation of the measure suggested an escalation in the political battle between Egypt’s new Islamist leaders and their secular opponents over an Islamist-backed draft constitution. The standoff has already threatened to derail the culmination of Egypt’s promised transition to a constitutional democracy nearly two years after the revolt against the former leader Hosni Mubarak.
“President Morsi will soon issue a decision for the participation of the armed forces in the duties of maintaining security and protection of vital state institutions until the constitution is approved and legislative elections are finished,” the state newspaper Al Ahram reported, suggesting that martial law would last until at least February. Parliamentary elections are expected to be held two months after the constitutional referendum, which is scheduled for next Saturday.
A short time later, a military spokesman read a statement over state television echoing the report of the president’s order. The military “realizes its national responsibility for maintaining the supreme interests of the nation and securing and protecting the vital targets, public institutions, and the interests of the innocent citizens,” the spokesman said.
This article was posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:41 am