Thursday, March 24, 2011

Egyptian Cabinet Outlaws Strikes

Egypt: Protests affecting economy to be illegal

Mar 24th, 2011 | By Mohamed Abdel Salam

CAIRO: Protests, strikes, and sit-ins that affect the economy will be illegal under a new passed by the Egyptian cabinet on Wednesday. The law is now waiting for endorsement by the Supreme Council of the Armed forces, who is charged with the country’s administration.

Under the new law, anyone organizing or calling for a protest or strike that would cause obstruction to production and affect the Egyptian economy will be sentenced to one year imprisonment or a maximum fine of 500,000 EGP (U.S. $84,000).

The Egyptian government would only enforce the law so long as the Emergency Laws are in place, according to a statement issued by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Many Egyptian activists are unhappy with the new law.

Emergency Law has been enforced in Egypt since the 1981 assasination of former president Anwar Sadat. The law aided Hosni Mubarak’s subsequent iron rule of Egypt for the next thirty years.

The statement noted that the new law will be applied to anyone inciting, promoting, calling for, or participating in a protest, strike or sit-in that disrupts or delays work at public or private institutions.

The law comes in the light of in the increasing number of daily political protests, labor strikes and sit-ins in various fields and vital sectors since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak on February11.

In related news, the Cabinet also approved the new political parties’ law, which would allow new parties who meet the legal requirements to gain their licenses upon notification of the authorities. It approved a proposed amendment to Law 40 of 1977 which regulates the formation of political law, a move which would allows several banned parties to be legally recognized.

However, the law still prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion.

The former law allowed regulation of political parties by the Political Parties Affairs Committee, which was headed by the secretary-general of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party, Safwat el-Sherif.

The cabinet said that under the amendments the committee was transformed into a judicial committee that would be headed by the first deputy of the Court of Cassation and will include two deputies of the vice-president of the Council of State.

The law prohibits the establishment of parties based on religious or geographical grounds or based on discrimination between citizens on the background of sex, origin, language, religion or creed.

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