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Egypt ends state of emergency

An Egyptian court on Tuesday ruled a three-month state of emergency be lifted.

Mohammed Morsi supporters and Muslim Brotherhood gesture towards supporters of Egyptian Army and chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi outside the high court on the day of Morsi's trial on 4 November, 2013 in Cairo. Picture:AFP

CAIRO - An Egyptian court ruled a three-month state of emergency be lifted on Tuesday, a step that may help the army-backed government restore a semblance of normality after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

But as emergency rule was ordered to end, the government edged a step closer to passing a law on demonstrations that the opposition says could be a new way to curb protests.

The government imposed emergency and nightly curfews on 14 August, when security forces forcibly dispersed two Cairo sit-ins by Morsi supporters, touching off the worst domestic bloodshed in Egypt's modern history.

The court ruled the state of emergency had ended on Tuesday, two days earlier than expected.

The government said in a statement it was committed to implementing the court ruling and was awaiting a copy of the decision to execute it.

It would mean an end to nightly curfews that have choked economic life, although security forces would not lift the curfew until formally told to do so by the government, a security official said.

The curfew now stretches from 1am to 5am, apart from Fridays, when it begins at 7pm.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood says the state of emergency has given extra-legal cover to a crackdown on the movement.

Security forces have killed hundreds of Morsi's supporters and arrested thousands more since his July 3 downfall.

Some 250 members of the security forces have been killed since then, most of them in the lawless Sinai Peninsula where security sources said an officer died in an attack on a police station on Tuesday.

Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi enjoys the support of many Egyptians but his critics say the new government aims to revive the autocratic ways of the Mubarak era.

UNIVERSITY CLASHES

The draft legislation to regulate demonstrations has been condemned by critics as a danger to the right to protest, a right seen by activists as one of the main achievements of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, who crushed all public dissent.

Interim President Adly Mansour received the draft from his government on Tuesday and is studying it, his office said. The president has the power to issue legislation in the absence of parliament, which was dissolved after Morsi's ousting.

"They have the discretion to ban every single demonstration," said Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, mentioning one of several criticisms of the draft.

Unrest by Morsi supporters has persisted, though the number of demonstrators has dwindled, and there were clashes with security forces at two universities north of Cairo on Tuesday.

In Mansoura, four people were wounded in the clashes that also involved local residents. Witnesses said the opposing camps hurled rocks at each other. The sound of gunshot was also heard but it was unclear who was firing. Police moved in following a request from the head of the university.

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