Parliament Gives Egyptian President Free Hand over Defense
The Egyptian parliament on Monday voted to extend Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's authority to conclude deals for arms purchases and military production, citing Israeli military threats, according to reports.
“The current situation in the Middle East in light of electing Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister, the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian lands during the six-month Intifada and the blockade of the peace process are all reasons to approve this law,” a report by the parliament’s defense committee said, cited by the daily Al-Ahram.
The law voted on Monday, which came into force in 1974 and is renewable every three years, grants the head of state the power to take decisions that have the force of law on matters of military production and purchase of arms, said AFP.
Zakareya Azmi, an MP from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and head of Mubarak's office told AFP that "the presence of an (Israeli) government which threatens to strike the High Dam (in Aswan) proves the need to approve this law."
Israel's right-wing MP Avigdor Lieberman on January 21 threatened to bomb Egypt and Lebanon if the situation in the region deteriorated. Lieberman was then named infrastructure minister in new Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government.
Several opposition MPs, particularly Nasserites and Marxists, challenged the parliament's decision, saying that Egypt is not at war with Israel since the two countries signed their peace treaty in 1979, according to the agency.
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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