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Revolutionary Front issues five day ultimatum for interim government to cancel Protest Law

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Other demands include resignation of interior minister, banning of military trials for civilians, release of detained protesters, and freedom of assembly

A protestor shouts slogans at Talaat Harb Square, downtown Cairo on November 28, 2013, during a demonstration to protest against a new law which regulates demonstrations.     (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

A protestor shouts slogans at Talaat Harb Square, downtown Cairo on November 28, 2013, during a demonstration to protest against a new law which regulates demonstrations.
(AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The Revolutionary Front issued an official statement on Saturday giving the interim government a five day ultimatum to meet a list of four demands, including the cancelation of the controversial Protest Law. The ultimatum ends on Thursday morning, which marks the anniversary of the 2012 presidential palace clashes.

The front threatened to rally for peaceful protests should the government fail to meet its four demands before the deadline.

The demands include the abolishment of the Protest Law, the resignation of Mohamed Ibrahim as Minister of Interior, a clear statement in the constitution banning military trials for civilians, the release of all the detained protesters, and for security forces to allow for peaceful protests to be carried out without harassment or interference

Interim President Adly Mansour said the law was not issued by presidential decree but after a law decree, which is part of his jurisdiction until a parliament is elected, state-owned MENA news agency reported on Saturday.

Mansour added that the law was ratified after considering similar French and Swiss laws and after the cabinet had made the edits suggested by the National Council of Human Rights, and it was issued to be implemented in its current form. Mansour addressed the revolutionary youth “we can’t revolt forever, we revolted and now it is time to build.”

In a Saturday TV interview, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said his government had “succeeded in implementing the law” which “will continue to be implemented in its current form and not be change,” MENA reported.

“Anyone not abiding by the law will be punished in accordance with it,” he added, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which the prime minister said “ aimed to test the strength of the government and prove its weakness, which will not happen. The government plans on applying the law to everyone, with no discrimination.”

Beblawy also expressed his respect for the opinion of his deputy, Ziad Bahaa Al-Din, who has clearly voiced his objection of the law. “This disagreement is part of the democracy we seek,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Hany Abdel Latif meanwhile said that “all protests that took place after Tuesday had a permit except for the Muslim Brotherhood protests on Friday, when security forces dealt with them according to the law.” He added that the ministry is “committed to enforcing the law against those who intend to break it, regardless of political affiliation.”

Last Wednesday, the Revolutionary Front denied it had procured a permit to protest against the Protest Law after the interior ministry released a statement an hour prior the protest that a permit had been granted for it.

Salah Mohamed, the father of Jika, a 16 year old who died during clashes with security forces on the first anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes in 2012, confirmed that he had been responsible for notifying authorities of the protest when he was summoned to Abdeen police station for questioning.

“I didn’t follow the required legal procedures,” said Mohamed. “I simply told them that there was a protest to avoid bloodshed without specifying the names of participants or the route it would take.” He added that although he opposed the law and the drafted constitution, he had made the notification under the impression that the interior ministry “wants to avoid clashes with the revolutionaries and simply get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood protests.”

Mohamed Al-Baqer, a founding member of the Revolutionary Front said in reply to Mohamed’s statement, “The front has never and will never coerce nor control the actions of the families of the martyrs and we understand the reason for his action, although it doesn’t represent us.”

Baqer added that the front “completely disapproves” of the Protest Law and is calling for its abolishment, as per its Saturday statement.

“We will not take any permits for our upcoming protests, as this law was issued by a military state that uses security agencies to implement it,” said Baqer.

When asked about the student protests at Cairo University on Sunday that had not obtained a permit, Abdel Latif replied that the Ministry of Interior was aware of the protests, which he said led to the burning of a police car. Authorities had refused to respond, Abdel Latif claimed, as it had been linked to “the plot made by the international organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood against the interior ministry, which the ministry revealed on Saturday.”

“Dealing with the plot will require other measures” said Abdel Latif.

The ministry released a statement on Saturday in which it claimed to have discovered a plan by the Brotherhood set to be implemented over the next three months. Its purpose, the ministry said, was to “imply locally and internationally that the regime is incapable of managing the state’s affairs and implementing the roadmap.” The ministry added that the plan targets military and police personnel along with public and private institutions to spread panic among citizens.

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AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah

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