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Egypt's military to let emergency law expire

Laws implemented after the assassination of Sadat technically outlawed gatherings of more than two people Egypt's emergency laws, widely used under the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak to silence political opponents, have expired for the first time in 31 years, the country's ruling military council announced on Thursday.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said in a statement that it would not renew the laws but would continue maintaining security until power is transferred to civilian rule. A new president will assume office in June.

Activists have also called on the country's recently elected parliament to open a wide investigation into the abuses committed under emergency law, Rageh said.

The laws were renewed for two years in May 2010 by a parliament dominated by Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

The military council promised to do away with them after Mubarak's regime fell in February 2011 but instead expanded their scope after thousands of protesters broke into the Israeli embassy in September.

In January, the generals declared that emergency laws would only be applied in cases of thuggery, a vague definition that legal experts argued had essentially left the laws in place.

But by then, the emergency laws had been eclipsed by the military's use of its own justice system to arrest, jail and prosecute at least 10,000 people, many of them protesters or petty criminals, activists have said.

The use of military trials for civilians, which began shortly after the revolution, still has not been discarded by the council.

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