Egypt's state of emergency, which allows authorities to detain suspects without charge, will not be lifted until stability returns, its military ruler said in comments published on Tuesday.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who took charge when a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February, said the state of emergency would end "as soon as possible," the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
But he added that the emergency law, which the military widened in scope last month after protesters ransacked the Israeli embassy and clashed with police, would be lifted "on condition that the security situation stabilises."
Since the uprising against Mubarak, which saw protesters torch police stations nationwide, Egypt has seen sporadic and sometimes deadly unrest and a sharp rise in crime.
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The military's amendments to the law effectively ban strikes and demonstrations that cause disruption to traffic, as well as the spreading of "false rumours."
But the security forces have so far not used those powers to crack down on persistent strikes and other protests.
The military agreed on Saturday to examine ending the emergency as part of a package of concessions to political parties who object to parts of an electoral law drawn up to regulate parliamentary polls due to start in late November.
The military had promised it would not conduct elections under a state of emergency.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that she hoped Egypt would lift the emergency well before June next year when the powers granted by the Mubarak-era parliament run out.
"We want to see this as soon as possible," she said, adding that it was a key step to "create the context for free and democratic elections."