Egypt extends state of emergency for three months

FILE PHOTO: Egypt's Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly talks at Egypt Mega Projects MEED Conference in Cairo, Egypt, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s parliament voted on Sunday to extend a state of emergency in the country for three months, prolonging the authorities’ ability to use special powers into 2019.

Egypt first imposed a state of emergency in April 2017 after two church bombings killed at least 45 people, and has extended it at three-month intervals since.

The renewal starting Oct. 15 was published in the official gazette last week, and required parliamentary approval within seven days.

The state of emergency grants the authorities sweeping powers, allowing them to make arrests and crack down on what they call enemies of the state.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told parliament ahead of Sunday’s vote that national security needed to be balanced with the protection of public freedoms.

Egypt’s security forces have been fighting a militant insurgency concentrated in North Sinai, and launched a major operation in the remote region in February.