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Emergency extended
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 10 - 05 - 2016

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail addressed parliament on Tuesday on President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi's decision to extend a state of emergency in parts of North Sinai for three more months.
Ismail said the decision (Decree 187/2016) states that the extension of the state of emergency is necessary to fight terrorism in designated parts of North Sinai, contain the dangerous security conditions there, and safeguard the country's eastern borders with the Gaza Strip against any terrorist threats.
The decree was referred to the general committee on Tuesday for discussion and revision. North Sinai MPs said terrorist threats are confined to just one per cent of the total size of the governorate. They, however, insisted that combating terrorism in North Sinai should not be limited to security measures but also to implementing major development projects there.
Other MPs, including Kamal Amer, chairman of parliament's Defence and National Security Committee, stressed that army and police forces should coordinate to fight terrorists in Sinai.
“We know that security has suffered from a security vacuum for a long time and that this made for fertile ground for terrorists coming from the Gaza Strip, or from Libya, or returning from Afghanistan and other war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq,” said Amer.
“Terrorists in North Sinai receive weapons through underground tunnels and by sea to launch their attacks in Egypt. The state of emergency is limited to troubled areas and helps deter terrorists from carrying out their operations.” He added, “In fighting these terrorists, the army is always keen that civilians remain safe.”
Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal indicated that Ismail's statement came after the government officially informed parliament of President Al-Sisi's decision to extend the state of emergency in North Sinai for three more months.
According to Article 154 of the constitution, the government must inform parliament of the president's decision to implement a state of emergency within seven days, and that the decision applicable for no more than three months must be approved by two-thirds of MPs.‎
Although Al-Sisi decided on 29 April to extend the state of emergency, parliament was officially informed of the decision on 8 May.
Abdel-Aal indicated that Article ‎131 of parliament's internal bylaws states that the prime minister must address parliament within 24 hours to inform MPs of the reason behind the extension.
The decree states that emergency measures are to be imposed in areas including the region from the east of Rafah Hill to Al-Awga west of Al-Arish.
A curfew will be imposed in the region from 7pm to 6am, although Al-‎Arish city, the capital of North Sinai, and the international road from the Al-Midan checkpoint to the entrance of Al-Arish city from the east will see a four-‎hour curfew starting from 1am until 5am, or until further notice.‎
The decree states that any citizen found guilty of violating curfew hours could face imprisonment according to emergency Law 162/1985.‎
Alaa Abdel-Moneim, the parliamentary spokesman for the Support Egypt bloc, surprised all by denouncing the government's failure to inform parliament of the extension in a timely manner.
“The government should have informed parliament of this decision earlier because although it was issued on 29 April, parliament was informed on 8 May, or after nine days,” said Abdel-‎Moneim. “This is in violation of Article ‎154 of the constitution, which stipulates that parliament must be officially informed of the extension decision within seven days.”
Said Abdel-Moneim, “I urge the government to respect the constitution.” He added, “The government has not submitted the 2016-2017 state budget to parliament on time. Instead of presenting this budget to parliament on 1 April, it came at a later date.”
In response, Speaker Abdel-Aal assured deputies that the extension of the state of emergency in North Sinai will go into effect only after parliament's approval.
“I also want to make it clear that while President Al-Sisi referred the extension decree to the government on 4 May, the government sent it to parliament on 8 May, or within seven days,” said Abdel-‎Aal.‎
The initial decision to impose a state of emergency in North Sinai came in August 2013 by then-interim president Adli Mansour after the violent unrest in the country following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Hundreds of security and army personnel have been killed in North Sinai since 2013, with Ansar Beit Al-‎Maqdis, an Islamist militant group affiliated to Islamic State, declaring responsibility for most of the attacks.


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