Egypt's 31-year state of emergency comes to an end

A student fixes a banner that reads 'No, Emergency Law,' during a protest in Cairo on March 5, 2005. Egypt's military ruler, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, said in a speech on Jan. 24, 2012 that he would lift the decades-old emergency law, which has long been used to silence Egypt's opposition and justify crackdowns on the Egyptian population.

Egypt’s state of emergency has come to an end after 31 years after its last renewal expired on Thursday, the country’s military rulers have said.

The emergency law has been in continuous force since President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981, and allowed the authorities to detain people indefinitely without charge and put them on trial in special security courts.

The Egyptian parliament renewed the law for two years in May 2010 when the country was still under the control of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, but limited its scope so that it only applied to terrorism and drug-related crime, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Following the overthrow of Mubarak in a popular revolution in February 2011, the military expanded the law to encompass strikes but then rowed back and said it would only be applicable in cases of “thuggery.” It did not, however, define the nature of that offense.

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According to the BBC, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement Thursday vowing to “continue its national responsibility in protecting the country until the transfer of power is over.”

The military has promised to hand over power by the end of June once a new president is chosen in run-off elections in two weeks’ time, according to the Agence France Presse

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