CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s interior minister on Tuesday dissolved the country’s widely hated state security agency, which is accused in torture and other human rights abuses in the suppression of dissent against ousted Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule.
The new Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mansour el-Essawy, a former Cairo security chief, said in a statement that a new agency in charge of keeping national security and combatting terrorism will be formed.
Dismantling the State Security Investigations agency was a major demand of the protest movement that led an 18-day uprising to oust Mubarak. Since he stepped down on Feb. 11, Egyptians have stormed the agency’s main headquarters and other offices, seizing documents to keep them from being destroyed to hide evidence of human rights abuses.
Many protest leaders have said that despite the fall of Mubarak and his government, the agency remains active in protecting the old regime and trying to sabotage the democratic transition.
The agency was given a free hand by emergency laws under Mubarak to suppress dissent are is one of the most powerful symbols of his regime. State Security was notorious among Egyptians for its arrests — and abuse of activists — and also was involved in closely monitoring media and tracking and disrupting almost any political activities not condoned by Mubarak’s ruling party.
In his statement, the minister said the agency’s branches and offices all over Egypt would be dissolved and replaced with a new “National Security” agency tasked with keeping security, protecting the internal front and combatting terrorism “in line with the constitution and principles of human rights. ”
It said officers for the new apparatus would be chosen in the coming few days. It also added that the new apparatus will “serve the country without intervening in the lives of citizens while they practice their rights and political life.”
Figuring out what to do with Egypt’s tainted security agencies has been one of the most contentious issues facing the military rulers who took charge after Mubarak was forced to step down.