But will the reforms go far enough, ask analysts
The Egyptian political arena is rife with speculation regarding President Hosni Mubarak’s promised package of democratic reforms and his speech to Parliament regarding constitutional amendments on Sunday. Sweeping constitutional amendments are expected, but analysts and opposition party members say there is no clear idea how acute the changes will be.
Articles 76 and 77, however, are at the center of the reform package and are likely the source of much contention between the government and political pundits calling for a complete overhaul of the constitution.
Political analyst Amr Hashem explained that there are around 30 to 40 articles that are subject to change, but specific changes have not yet been identified.
The President’s speech is expected to follow up on promises he made during his 2005 elections campaign to revamp constitutional articles specifically dealing with the elections mechanism.
Although the amendments he will earmark will be the most significant since 1971, some analysts believe they will fall short of opposition demands for democratic reforms.
Opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and other independents in Parliament have been calling for a rewrite of article 77, which in its current form allows the president to nominate himself indefinitely.
“I don’t expect there will be real change to come from this regime, which insists on remaining in the power, said Husain Abdul Razik the general secretary of the leftist Al Tagamoa party.
“The constitutional amendments will likely fail to satisfy what the people want, he told The Daily Star Egypt.
The proposed amendments will be the third set – previous changes were carried out in 1980 and 2005 – if implemented.
Amendments to Article 76 of the constitution were made in May 2005 following a national referendum.
This paved the way for multi-party, multi-candidate presidential elections in September of the same year, but opposition groups said the amendments were cosmetic and instead placed hurdles on the nomination of independent candidates in presidential elections.
They charge that in its present form, Article 76 prohibits Muslim Brotherhood candidates – which number 88 of 444 seats, sitting as independents in the current Parliamentary session – from running in presidential elections.
Other independent candidates will also face the hurdle of collecting at least 65 signatures from the Parliament, 25 from the Shura Council, and 10 from municipal council members from at least 14 provinces.
With the National Democratic Party controlling a clear majority of seats in Parliament and all councils, chances of independent candidacy become slim.
“We refused the [previous] amendment to article 76, and if the coming amendment will not give the right to the independent candidates to nominate themselves we will also refuse it, said Husain Abdo Al Razik.