CAIRO – In order to safeguard a government referendum planned for Saturday, Egypt’s government has given the military the power to arrest civilians.
According to NBC News, the government’s order said that the military would support police and help them to protect “vital institutions” until the referendum result is announced.
The new decree not only gave army officers the right to make arrests, but it also allows them to transfer detainees to prosecutors.
However, a military source said that the measure introduced by a civilian government, would have a short shelf-life.
The military source told Reuters:
“The latest law giving the armed forces the right to arrest anyone involved in illegal actions such as burning buildings or damaging public sites is to ensure security during the referendum only.”
“The armed forces secured polling stations during previous elections when it was in charge of the country,” the source said, referring to 16 months of army rule after Mubarak fell.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said that the committee overseeing the vote had requested the army’s assistance.
The military source added:
“Now the president is in charge. In order for the armed forces to be involved in securing the referendum, a law had to be issued saying so.”
President Yasser Ali said that “the armed forces will work within a legal framework to secure the referendum and will return (to barracks) as soon as the referendum is over.
The military urged rival political forces, on Saturday, to solve their disputes with dialogue. The opposite would drag the country into a “dark tunnel,” which the military would not allow.