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Mubarak's party faces dissolution

An Egyptian court has ordered the dissolution of the country's former ruling party and the confiscation of its assets, meeting a major demand of the protest movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Activists have been pressing Egypt's ruling military to abolish the National Democratic Party, fearing that even after the fall of Mubarak on February 11 - and the arrest of many of its top leaders - remnants of the party could still try to hold power in the country.

In particular, the NDP could still have been a powerful contender in the first post-Mubarak parliament elections due in September.

The court verdict ordering its dissolution appeared to signal that the military was moving more quickly to meet protester demands after a dramatic rise in tensions between the two sides. Activists had increasingly accused the military - which took power after Mubarak's ousting - of protecting remnants of his regime.

The order came only days after Mubarak and his sons were put under detention for investigation on allegations of corruption and involvement in the killing of protesters.

The Supreme Administrative Court announced the verdict, ordering the NDP to be disbanded and the confiscation of its assets and offices by the state. Lawyers had raised a suit demanding its dissolution, accusing the party of corruption.

For years, the NDP held an unbreakable monopoly over Egypt's political life. It consistently held overwhelming majorities in parliament, largely because of widespread vote rigging during elections. Its members controlled the hierarchy of Egypt's vast and powerful bureaucracy.

It also effectively could determine what other parties could be formed, since any new party had to be approved by a body dominated by the NDP. As a result, Egypt's recognised opposition parties are largely weak with little grassroots support.

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