Interior Ministry granted broad authority to secure elections

Egypt's cabinet has directed its Interior Ministry to adopt all measures required to secure the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are set to begin on 28 November.

The cabinet, in a meeting on Wednesday chaired by interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, instructed the interior minister to apply laws that criminalize actions damaging or hindering works at public facilities in order to ensure a stable electoral process. The ministers agreed to provide the Interior Ministry with the capabilities needed for that purpose.

The government also asked Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy to enforce the laws against strikes and protests to confront the recently expanding labor protests.

The anti-protest law, which was approved by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has faced vehement criticism by activists and human rights advocates who view it as a regression to the suppressive practices of the former Mubarak regime. The SCAF, meanwhile, has defended the law, arguing that the increasing protests negatively affect the economy.

The cabinet also slammed recent statements by elements affiliated with the old regime and a number of political groups, in which they threatened to sabotage the electoral process. It emphasized that the High Elections Commission has the right to apply penalties stipulated in the political rights law against those who endanger the security of the electoral process either rhetorically or practically.

At a conference held in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena earlier this month, figures linked to the previously-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) threatened to spread chaos should authorities respond to demands by political forces to exclude former NDP members from the next elections.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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