Egypt uses coronavirus pandemic to grant Sisi more powers
Egypt's parliament on Wednesday approved amendments to the Emergency Law that will further expand the powers of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, claiming that such a move is necessary to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The amendments allocate an extra 18 powers to the president during a state of emergency, which human rights activists say formalises the wide-ranging authority already belonging to the autocratic leader.
The extra authorities include allowing the president to appoint the Military Prosecution to investigate crimes, which is a considerable step up in its responsibilities.
Other powers formally granted to the president include the power to suspend schools and universities, as well as operations in both the private and public sector which could even be extended to include court proceedings.
Read more: Coronavirus lockdowns are further eroding civil rights in Middle East nations, even in quasi-democratic ones
Another presidential power is the ability to restrict public meetings, demonstrations, and other types of gatherings, as well as mandating those returning from abroad to enter quarantine.
The expansion of powers also includes fiscal elements, including the authority to delay taxes, postpone utility bill payments, ban exports and control the price of certain goods and services.
The amendments are set to be ratified shortly, after which they will come into effect.
Egypt has been under a recurring state of emergency since April 2017, originally launched under the pretext of fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.
The state of emergency was extended earlier this month for a further three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Egypt has confirmed 3,659 cases of coronavirus, with 276 deaths.