Egypt's PM Sharaf shakes hands with Head of Egypt's ruling SCAF Field Marshal Tantawi
Egypt's ruling generals issued a law on Monday barring anyone found guilty of corruption from political life, but protesters said it would not allay their concerns that former supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak may regain influence.
The announcement was made after three days of clashes between security forces and protesters demanding an end to army rule in which 33 people have been killed and 1,250 wounded, reports Reuters.
"The amended law would apply to those who work to corrupt political life and damage the interests of the nation," the military council said in a statement.
Those convicted by the criminal court would be "removed from positions of leadership and would lose their membership in the People's Assembly (parliament) and local councils," it added.
They would also be barred from joining a political party for five years.
Members of Mubarak's now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP), some of whom now face trial for graft and abuse of power, often used their wealth and connections to secure seats in parliament, and to advance family and business interests.
Many former NDP members are standing in a parliamentary election that starts next Monday, but the new law is unlikely to stop them from entering the polls, protesters said.
Many political parties and pro-democracy activists have called for a ban on all former members of Mubarak's NDP, which functioned more as a patronage machine than a political party.
Protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square dismissed the announcement.
"This is a meaningless move by the military council. In fact this is a slap in the face of protesters and those who died to demand freedom and respect," said activist Mohamed Fahmy.
Jurist Hesham Bastawisy said the move was too late to stop former NDP members from running for parliament. "It will be a lengthy legal process of months to prove that so and so is guilty of political corruption in a criminal court," he said.
Army generals, who commanded popular support after Mubarak was unseated on February 11, are increasingly seen by protesters as an obstacle to a transition to democracy and civilian rule.
"The council is out of step with the people," Fahmy said.