Egypt court suspends army powers to arrest civilians

  • An Egyptian court has rejected a government decree allowing the army to arrest civilians.

    The move comes as a setback to military rulers preparing for this week's formal handover to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected and Islamist president.

    Following the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, the army-backed interim government has empowered soldiers to arrest civilians, reinstating the deposed president’s fiercely criticized state of emergency, which lapsed on May 31.

    Mubarak had used emergency law throughout his 30 years in power to repress Islamists and other dissenters.

    However, there are still doubts over the extent of Morsi’s authority as the ruling military council has taken many presidential powers.

    The army council that has ruled the country since Mubarak's fall stripped the presidency of many of its powers in a decree issued just days before the presidential run-off vote ended on June 17.

    The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a decree dissolving the lower house of parliament, saying rules had been broken when it was elected six months ago.

    The decision has threatened to force a new parliamentary election, which could erode the large bloc won by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.