Egypt’s prime minister promised to set up an anti-corruption body and work to end a 30-year-emergency law to placate protesters demanding faster reforms.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf addressed the nation after new ministers were sworn in after a reshuffle that was prompted by demonstrators who have camped out since July 8 in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.
“In the coming period, perhaps within a month or less, the government will establish The National Authority for Integrity and the Combat of Corruption,” Sharaf said in his first public address since recovering from a drop in blood pressure that delayed the swearing in of the new cabinet, Reuters reports.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Egypt 98th out of 178 countries last year in its global index of perceived levels of corruption, in which number one is the least corrupt. Corruption was a major driver of an uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from the presidency in February.
“This (move) is to implement the government’s obligations according to the United Nations’ Convention against Corruption which Egypt signed in 2005 but unfortunately has not activated to date,” he said in the televised address.
Sharaf also promised to work to end Egypt’s emergency law, in place since 1981. It allows indefinite detention without charge and was used under Mubarak to crush dissent. The army has said it would lift the law, but has not said when.
“There is a direction in the coming period and within the fastest timeframe to end the state of emergency,” Sharaf said.
The interior minister will also appoint an adviser for human rights affairs “in compliance with international agreements and covenants for human rights,” Sharaf said.
He added prisons would be open to human rights organisations and civil society to ensure the country was upholding the law with regard to protection of prisoners’ rights.
“We are all in one boat,” he said. “The people want and express. The government studies and implements.”