Egyptian military gives panel 10 days to produce constitutional amendments


The Egyptian military on Tuesday ordered a special committee studying
changes to the nation’s constitution to come up with amendments within
10 days, an indication that fundamental changes to the system of
government are not in the cards, experts said.

However, the changes apparently will allow the
formation of new political parties, and the Muslim Brotherhood
immediately announced it would do so. The Islamic organization has long
been banned from politics but has successfully elected some of its
members to parliament as individuals.

The military abrogated the constitution after taking
power Friday, raising hopes in some quarters that there would be major
changes not only in election laws but also a softening of the almost
unlimited powers of the presidency and an end of the provision saying
Islam is the national religion. The country has a significant Coptic
Christian minority that often complains of discrimination.

“It’s hard to think they could do all that in 10 days,” said Ann Lesch, a political scientist at American University in Cairo.

The Muslim Brotherhood will immediately form a party
to run in new parliamentary elections but will not run its own
candidate for president, according to a statement on its website.

Mohsen Rady, a party leader, said that “the former
tyranny of autocratic rule which had once prevented the establishment
of a party will give way to immediate reform demonstrating a serious
commitment to change, the granting of freedoms to all and the
transition toward democracy.”

A powerful sandstorm and a national religious holiday quieted most of the labor protests in Cairo that have continued since former President Hosni Mubarak turned power over to the military and left the Egyptian capital.

However, several hundred fired policemen gathered outside the Interior Ministry to demand their jobs back.


(c) 2011, Los Angeles Times.

Visit the Los Angeles Times on the Internet at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.