Egypt's Sisi extends state of emergency for seventeenth time
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued a presidential order extending a state of emergency for the seventeenth time since 2017, citing "health and security concerns".
Announced in the country’s official gazette, the state of emergency will be extended for another three months from Sunday morning.
It allows the Egyptian armed forces and the police to take "necessary measures to combat the dangers of terrorism and its financing, protect security and public and private property", according to a statement on the executive order. Those who violate the order face imprisonment, it adds.
Egypt's parliament, which is dominated by Sisi's supporters, is expected to rubber stamp the step this week, as it has on every occasion.
In a related development, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli issued night-time curfews in several regions of the country’s restive northern Sinai province, where the Egyptian military has been engaged in a battle with Islamist militants since 2011.
The first nationwide state of emergency announced by Sisi came into effect after the bombing of two Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta, which left 45 dead, in attacks that were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Under the special measures, Egyptian authorities can evacuate areas, impose curfews, and adopt strict security measures. Rights groups say this has allowed the government to crush dissent.
Read also: 'Political systems are broken': A year of Covid-19 and repression in the Middle East
In May last year, Sisi approved amendments to the state of emergency that granted him and security agencies additional powers, which the government said were needed to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to Amnesty International's 2020/2021 annual report, nine medical workers have been held under investigation for critiquing the government's handling of the pandemic, accused of terror offences and "spreading false news".