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Tuesday, February 15, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Egyptian Interior Ministry promises police force better wages, time to sleep

CAIRO — Egypt's new regime has pledged to retrain its police in an effort to modernize the security force.


Officials said the new military-dominated government of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq would oversee a project to modernize the police force. They said the effort would require significant retraining as well as recruitment by the Interior Ministry.

"There are several areas that must be addressed in the effort to rebuild the police force," Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy said.

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So far, Wagdy, despite criticism from the opposition, has retained the senior staff at the Interior Ministry. On Feb. 14, Wagdy approved the reappointment of deputy minister Maj. Gen. Mohammed Talabah, who also serves as security chief in the Cairo province. Other appointments included Maj. Gen. Farouk Lashin as security chief for Giza and deputy minister Maj. Gen. Mohammed Murad.

The interior minister has also pledged to restore morale within the police and security forces. Officials said this included a significant increase in salary as well as the doubling of promotions. Patrolmen were said to earn about $110 per month and often serve shifts that last 24 hours.

Wagdy, a major general, said officers would be trained in the proper treatment of civilians as well as detainees, Middle East Newsline reported. At a briefing on Feb. 13, the minister said police would also be provided basic tools to enable them to perform effectively, including mandatory sleep periods as well as improved wages.

Officials said the security forces underwent massive defections during the opposition campaign against President Hosni Mubarak. They said the security forces only reached 40 percent of their manpower requirements until Jan. 25, when massive protests struck Egypt.

Wagdy said manpower was one of four basic elements in the modernization program. Other requirements were identified as retraining, the upgrading of the Interior Ministry and support equipment, including police and other security vehicles. The ministry employs more than one million people.

"Within 48 hours, the police will be restored and will be felt by the citizens," Wagdy said.

Other new measures included the end of prosecution of officers in military courts, access by regular patrolmen to police hospitals and the rehiring of officers fired for administrative violations. Officials said the measures were meant to reverse penalties on the police instituted by Wagdy's successor, Habib Adli, who served for 13 years.

The security forces were employed in the crackdown on protesters by the Mubarak regime in late January and early February. Officers of the feared State Security Service were also accused of looting stores and homes during the protests.

"This is perhaps the first time that the security services can be rebuilt," Safwat El Zayat, a military analyst said.

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