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Egypt's never-ending state of emergency

After 29 years, the government — faced with an election and growing unrest —  extends the order.

It likened its decision to uphold the state of emergency to President Barak Obama’s failed promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by the January 2010 deadline.

“Though President Obama signed an executive order to close the facility by the end of 2009, the administration has been unable to do so due to the complexity of the two challenges faced by the administration regarding this matter,” Nazif said to parliament.

Political analysts, however, think it’s no surprise that the government should not want to loosen up now: National elections are looming in the near future and rumors continue to circulate questioning the health of Mubarak after he underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany in March.

Opposition to the Mubarak regime received a new boost last December, after Mohamed Elbaradei — the former head of the  U.N. nuclear watchdog and a Noble Prize recipient — announced he might run in Egypt’s 2011 presidential election against the ruling party.

“I believe that [the emergency law extension] has a link with the coming parliamentary elections this year and the presidential election in 2011. I think this is very critical phase for the regime,” said Hala Mustafa, editor of the political journal Democracy, who also cited a growing protest movement and Islamic opposition within the country.

Protesters from the political spectrum joined together to demonstrate outside parliament on Tuesday — one of  number of recent protests, and unusual in the country — after it was announced that the emergency law would be renewed. The group of about 100 surrounded on all sides by riot police held signs with a picture of a skeleton labeled “the Egyptian people” sitting at the bottom of a noose labeled “the emergency.”

“They try to make the Egyptian people scared through the state of emergency,” said Sayed Gouda, 55, who used to belong to the liberal-leaning Al-Ghad political party. “I have children, boys and girls. I want my children to live in a free country in the future.”