Egypt to finish constitutional amendments in 10 days

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, February 16, 2011
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Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said Tuesday it hopes to end its mission and transfer power in the next six months to a civilian authority and a president elected in free and fair elections that truly reflect the will of the people, the state news agency MENA reported.

"The council affirmed that it is not seeking power, the current situation was imposed on the armed forces and that they will not betray people's trust," it said in a statement.

The Supreme Council on Tuesday also set a period of 10 days for the constitutional amendment committee to finish its task.

The military council formed the committee Tuesday in the presence of Minister of Defense and Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Sami Anan, chief-of-staff of the armed forces.

The committee will be chaired by Tareq el-Beshry, a respected former head of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court.

Members of the committee include three constitutional experts and three judges, as well as a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's prominent opposition group which is officially banned.

El-Beshry said the committee, which doesn't have a working mechanism yet, was appointed to amend the constitution in a way that will help maintain the nation's sovereignty and prompt democracy.

Tantawi urged the committee to finish its task on time to alleviate the anger of the protesters and make them feel secure regarding the army's credibility.

The Supreme Council announced Sunday in communique No. 5 that they will suspend the constitution, dissolve the parliament, and form a panel to draft a new constitution for the country before submitting it to a popular referendum.

Egypt's army has also pledged to lift a state of emergency in place throughout Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. But it has yet to say when this will happen.

Marches subdued, but demands for reform continue

Marches subsided on Tuesday, a public holiday for the Prophet Mohammad's birthday, and on Tahrir Square, the epicenter of anti-government protests that finally led to Mubarak's ouster, traffic flowed freely.

However, the military rulers are now facing the challenge of accommodating demands unleashed by the revolution, as various labor strikes, mostly demanding pay increases, occurred across the country after the 18-day upheaval.

Thousands of workers in banks, textile and food factories, oil facilities and government offices went on strike this week. The central bank said banks would remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday after being closed on Monday because of strikes.

Board members of Egypt's Suez Canal Trade Union and a group of workers staged a sit-in at the canal's authority headquarters in Ismailia on Tuesday, demanding an increase of their wages, the MENA news agency said.

Pro-democracy leaders also plan a big "Victory March" on Friday to celebrate the revolution and perhaps press for more and immediate reform plans.

Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces warned Tuesday that a further spread of strikes across the country would be disastrous, and urged an end to all strikes.

In communique No. 5 read out on state television Monday, a military spokesman said: "Noble Egyptians see that these strikes, at this delicate time, lead to negative results. First, they harm the nation's security. Second, they disrupt the government from providing the basic requirements for citizens. Third, they hamper production and work in state sectors."

Muslim Brotherhood to form official party to contest in elections

The Muslim Brotherhood, the most organized opposition group in the country, confirmed that it planned to form an official political party to contest promised parliamentary elections.

"When the popular demand for the freedom to form parties is realized, the group will found a political party," the Brotherhood said in a new statement.

Yet the capacity and popularity of the party, backed by about 15 to 20 percent of the population, is yet to be seen.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Monday he intends to nominate himself in Egypt's coming presidential elections, Al Arabiya TV reported.

Moussa said he will devote the coming months to his presidential campaign after leaving his post in the Arab League in March. According to Al Arabiya TV, he has prepared a campaign plan focusing on the principles of law, democracy and human rights.

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