On Mubarak's proposed constitution amendment
Egypt, Politics, 2/28/2005
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's ground-breaking call on Saturday for amending Article 76 of the Constitution was highly praised by the various Egyptian political and religious powers.
Mohamed Mahdi Akef, mentor of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, welcomed the move, noting that it meant that the Egyptian regime began to understand popular aspirations for change and reform.
Mubarak called for a direct election for the office of President. In a televised address, Mubarak set some basic principles while calling upon the Parliament to amend Article 76 of the Constitution, saying he hopes these principles would help achieve his target of making sweeping reforms in Egypt.
The set of principles the President mentioned includes, holding free direct Presidential elections, guaranteeing that political parties run in the Presidential race, and allowing multiple Presidential candidacy.
Reiterating that Mubarak's proposal came to reflect popular wish for a comprehensive political reform, Akef said it was premature to decide whether his group would nominate a candidate for the presidency.
For his part, Kamal Al-Shazli, Assistant Secretary General of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), described the move as a historic step ending decades of the referendum system used to choose a President.
He said Mubarak called for the formation of an independent committee that would oversee the whole election process.
The President said the planned constitutional change would enable persons finding themselves fit for public office to enter the Presidential race.
Under the current constitution, Egyptian Presidents are named of the Lower House, the People' Assembly, The name of the candidate selected is put to the public for confirmation in a referendum every six years.
Several Shura Council (Upper House) and People's Assembly (Lower House) members, representing party loyal and independents, lauded the proposal.
Mohamed Sarhan, the Deputy Chairman of the opposition Al- Wafd party, hailed the proposal as a quick response by President Mubarak to the aspirations of his people.
So did a number of his people. So did a number of party parliamentary deputies, including Fahmi Nashed, Mahmoud Abaza, Mounir Fakhri Abdel Nour and Fou'ad Badrawi.
Chairman of El-Takaful (solidarity) Party Osama Shaltout described Mubarak's call as a very courageous step that could not have been taken by any other Egyptian President but Mubarak.
This "Mubarak" (Arabic pun meaning blessed) decision can only be taken by a bold fighter, Shaltout said.
Chairman of the Greens Party Abdel Moneim Al-Assar said this step is resounding victory for democracy.
The Greens welcome this important step that adds to the popularity of Mubarak, he said.
Al-Ahrar Party Shura Council representative Mohamed Farid Zakariya said Mubarak's initiative was a heavy blow to those continuing provocative remarks abroad and inside the US administration.
It also dealt a blow to several Zionist writers interfering in Egypt's internal affairs, he added.
He reaffirmed the opposition party's support for Mubarak on the road towards reform, change, development and rebuilding.
President Mubarak's proposed constitutional change was also praised by the opposition Al-Tagammou Party Chairman Refaat El- Saeed who described it as one of the most important steps on the road to democracy.
It was also praised by Al-Nasseri party deputy chairman Mohamed Abul-Ela Radwan and Raafat Khaled, the deputy chairman of the new Al-Ghad party. Khaled noted that his party's differences with Mubarak was on the way to choose a president, not on Mubarak himself.
Independent lawmakers also hailed the move.
They included Seham Izzudin of Northern Sinai, Refaat El-Bashir, and Mohamed El- Adrashin.
All of them highlighted their rejection of any foreign intervention in Egypt's internal affairs.
Chairman of parliament committees also praised the "surprise move" as a breakthrough on the road to develop the political life and political reforms.
Opposition parties such as Misr socialist Arab party and the labor party and the Arab defense society also praised the move.
Meanwhile, the move was also hailed by head of the National council for Human rights Boutros Ghali as an important step on his road to democracy.
It was also welcomed by Amin Shalabi, the executive director f the Egyptian foreign affairs council.
It was also praised by EU security chief Javier Solana and number of French journalists from France 3 TV channel.
Also, several international media highlighted the move the news was also top in Ethiopian media.
Chairman of the Egyptian foreign relations committee at the people's Assembly Mostafa Al-Feqi lauded President Hosni Mubarak's decree to put forward for voting the amendment of article 76 in the constitution, adding the amendment would help any candidates to run for presidency.
It is an achievement Egyptians have been dreaming of since his Pharaonic era, he said.
It is a tangible change in the political system in Egypt to cancel the referendum system, for Presidential elections, he said.
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