Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mubarak agrees to consider constitutional changes

Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday agreed to appoint a committee to oversee changes to the constitution, a concession to opposition groups that have long complained they are shut out of the electoral process.

Vice President Omar Suleiman, who has led talks with opposition groups calling for Mubarak's ouster, said the 11-member committee would conclude its work by the end of February.

What are the objections to the constitution as it is now written?

The constitution has been amended twice since 2005. But the most recent changes in 2007, which were intended to soften the amendments made two years earlier did not fundamentally loosen the control of Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party.

The constitution appears to permit independent parties to put forward presidential candidates, but only if they receive the support of 250 members of Parliament and representatives of every local council in at least 14 governorates. This is a nearly insurmountable barrier given that Parliament is dominated by the NDP.

The constitution also does not set a limit on the number of terms that a president can serve, an omission that has enabled Mubarak to retain control for five terms over 30 years.

Would these changes satisfy the opposition?

For many in the opposition, the answer is no. Some of the leaders have called for a more radical overhaul, beginning with the immediate resignation of Mubarak. Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and a leading voice of the opposition, has proposed discarding the document and dissolving Parliament.

Opponents want to reinstate judicial oversight of elections and to change the composition of the Presidential Election Commission, which is weighted in favor of whoever controls Parliament.

What is the likelihood that real change will come out of the committee's work?

The committee will be led by a jurist who is a staunch supporter of Mubarak who was involved in drafting the earlier amendments, many of which were assailed as undemocratic. The group, however, does include a reform-minded judge and vocal opponents of Mubarak.

What isn't being addressed by the committee?

One controversial "antiterrorism" amendment from 2007 gives the government the right to make arbitrary arrests, conduct searches and wiretaps without warrant, and transfer cases from civilian courts to military tribunals.

This amendment was a permanent extension of executive power. Prior to that Mubarak, with the cooperation of Parliament, had imposed a near constant state of emergency that overrode many of the freedoms of assembly and speech enumerated in the constitution.

Vice President Suleiman did not address whether the antiterrorism amendment would be revisited, saying only that the state of emergency would be lifted "in accordance with the security situation."

Information from the Guardian, al-Masry al-Youm, Reuters, the Associated Press and the New York Times was used in this report.

Mubarak agrees to consider constitutional changes 02/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Free speech, Schools of Hope, student voices and more


    FREE SPEECH: The University of Florida reluctantly hosts white nationalist activist Richard Spencer for a rally officials are encouraging students to ignore. Campus president Kent Fuchs, who tried to prevent the activity from taking place, Troopers prepare for Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for Alachua County ahead of the event.

  2. How old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween?

    Human Interest

    Brandi Eatman guesses the boy was at least 15 years old.

     Costume accessories at House of Make Believe at 1055 N Hercules Ave. in Clearwater. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  3. Report: West Pasco channel dredges could cost up to $13.5 million

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The cost of dredging a dozen coastal canals serving seven west Pasco communities could reach nearly $13.5 million, according to a consultant's report.

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
 A consultant recommends that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco's coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times 2011]
  4. Records show Hernando Beach fire chiefs defrauded taxpayers of thousands

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The three former chiefs of the defunct Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department, arrested in September, are collectively accused of defrauding the taxpayers of Hernando Beach, Aripeka and Forest Glenn of tens of thousands of dollars.

    David Freda, a former Hernando Beach fire chief, has been charged with organized fraud. He recently was fired as Brooksville’s fire chief.
  5. Money dries up, bringing questions and new leadership to Tampa nonprofit


    TAMPA — A new leader has been installed at one of East Tampa's leading nonprofit agencies following reports that money is going out faster than it's coming out.

    Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan founder James Hammond, left, attended an awards ceremony in February with Jeanette Bradley, right, who recently wasd removed as chief executive of the charity Hammond founded, the Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan. The group was honored for innovation at the WEDU Be More Unstoppable awards. [AMY SCHERZER | Times]