October 30, 2014 / 8:43 AM / 5 years ago

Egypt bans pro-Mursi pressure group

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt on Thursday banned a pressure group that has pushed for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was overthrown by the army last year, dealing a new blow to the country’s oldest Islamist movement.

A student supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi waves the yellow flag bearing the four-fingered Rabaa sign during a demonstration outside Cairo University May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt banned the Muslim Brotherhood itself last year and dissolved its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, in August precluding it from running in parliamentary elections expected to take place in the next few months.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb issued a decree on Thursday dissolving the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup as well as its political arm, the Independence Party, in line with an earlier court ruling.

There was no immediate comment from the group.

The Coalition, which included Brotherhood supporters and other Islamist groups, was set up after then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mursi in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Egyptian authorities have since cracked down on the Brotherhood, declaring it a terrorist group, throwing thousands of its members in jail and killing hundreds on a single day in one of the bloodiest episodes in Egypt’s modern history.

The pro-Mursi Coalition called for mass protests in the aftermath of that deadly crackdown in August last year, but was able to muster little support in the streets. Demonstrations have dwindled as the authorities have pursued their campaign against it.

The Coalition was conceived as a vehicle to bring together Egyptians from across the political spectrum who were opposed to the overthrow of a democratically president. In reality, it attracted individuals and groups sympathetic to the Brotherhood’s brand of political Islam.

Two of the main Islamist parties that initially supported the Coalition have distanced themselves in recent months and its public statements have largely dried up.

Once among Egypt’s best-organised and most successful political movements, the Brotherhood won Egypt’s first parliamentary and presidential elections after the 2011 Tahrir Square revolt that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Mursi ruled for a year, but angered many Egyptians by giving himself sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy.

In the wake of his overthrow, Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders were rounded up and hundreds have since been sentenced to death in mass trials that have drawn criticism from Western governments and human rights groups.

Sisi, who went on to win a presidential election in May, has vowed that the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule.

But many of the leading secular activists behind the 2011 uprising have also found themselves on the wrong side of the new political leadership, facing charges for taking part in peaceful demonstrations after Sisi banned unlicensed protests.

Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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