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Egypt restores broad arrest powers to military

Egypt's Ministry of Justice on Wednesday issued a decree restoring broad arrest powers to the Egyptian military to arrest civilians for non-military offenses. The decree restores some of the power previously granted to the military through the emergency law, which expired [JURIST report] in May after being in effect for nearly 30 years. Under the decree the military is once again authorized to conduct arrests for crimes which are typically handled by the police. It allows the military to arrest civilians for crimes such as destruction of property and obstructing traffic [Al Jazeera report]. The decree will remain in effect until the newly-elected constitutional assembly [JURIST report] completes the new Egyptian Constitution. The CA is not expected to complete a draft of the Constitution for several months.

Egyptian lawmakers reached an agreement [JURIST report] on the composition of the constitutional council last week after a controversy over the political balance of members threatened to halt drafting of a new constitution. Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court in April effectively suspended [JURIST report] the work of the 100-member panel responsible for drafting the country's new constitution after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the formation of the panel. The composition of the constitutional panel has been intensely debated, and the domination of the proceedings by Islamists [JURIST reports] has been extremely controversial. The debate surrounding the composition of constitutional panel follows an Egyptian court ruling in February that the elaborate voting system in the parliamentary elections was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The make-up of the constitutional panel could determine whether there will be an expansion of rights in the country.

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