[JURIST] Egypt’s interim government, the Cabinet of Ministers [official website] released a decree [text] on Wednesday that will impose prison sentences for strike actions and inciting protests. Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has yet to rule on the decree, many citizens were outraged and have planned a protest for Friday [Al-Ahram report]. Strikes have been ongoing since the recent revolution, with postal workers, police officers, hospital staff, railway workers, lawyers and journalists, among other groups, continuing to strike for better work conditions and pay. The decree would criminalize any protests, strikes or sit-ins that negatively affect the economy, as well as those who call for or incite action, with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds. According to the decree:
The Cabinet reasserted the necessity of immediate stoppage of all demonstrations and strikes witnessed nationwide especially that the cabinet has received huge amount of legal demands and responded to them, and other demands are studied, and that the government is working to prepare a complete frame to deal with policies of employment and incomes.
Last month, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces pledged to lift the emergency laws [JURIST report] that were in place for nearly 30 years once circumstances in the country improved. The Council also vowed to have a peaceful transition to power and promised not to prosecute “honourable people who refused corruption and demanded for reform.” The cabinet’s decree also established guidelines for creating new political parties.
Earlier this week, an overwhelming majority of citizens voted yes to constitutional reforms [JURIST report], including parliamentary elections within the next six months. The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces last month announced the formation of the judicial committee [JURIST report] to oversee amending the Egyptian constitution. When the council assumed power, it indicated that part of its transition plan [proclamation text] was to form a committee to amend constitutional articles prior to holding a public referendum. The plan followed the intentions of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, who had approved the formation of a panel [JURIST report] to amend the constitution before he resigned. Mubarak stepped down after nearly three weeks of demonstrations [Al Jazeera report] protesting the Egyptian government and calling for his resignation. During the three weeks of protests leading up to Mubarak’s resignation, nearly 400 people were killed and 5,500 were wounded.