CAIRO Dec 10 Egypt's government has temporarily
given the military the authority to arrest civilians to help
safeguard a constitutional referendum planned for Saturday, the
official gazette said.
The order, which a presidential official and military source
confirmed appeared in the gazette late on Sunday, said the
military would support police and liaise with them to protect
"vital institutions" until the referendum result is declared.
The decree gave army officers the right to make arrests and
transfer detainees to prosecutors.
Despite its limited nature, the edict will revive memories
of Hosni Mubarak's emergency law, also introduced as a temporary
expedient, under which military or state security courts tried
thousands of political dissidents and Islamist militants.
A cabinet source said ministers had reviewed the decree last
week, saying troops had secured elections during a military-run
transition after Mubarak, but with a civilian president now in
charge they needed a decree to allow them to play that role.
On Saturday, the military urged rival political forces to
solve their disputes via dialogue and said the opposite would
drag the country into a "dark tunnel", which it would not allow.