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Sat 26 Feb 2011 07:43 PM

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Egypt committee proposes 8-year cap on presidency

Committee loosens conditions on who can run for president, elections to be supervised by judiciary

Egypt committee proposes 8-year cap on presidency
NEW AMENDMENTS: The constitutional amendments are to be put to a national referendum ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections (Getty Images)

A judicial committee formed to draft changes to Egypt's constitution on
Saturday proposed capping to eight years the time a president can stay in
office and loosening the rules that curbed competition for the post.

Tariq al Bishri, head of the judicial committee formed by Egypt's ruling
military council, said the amendments to be put to a public referendum included
reducing the presidential term to four years and imposing a two-term limit.
President Hosni Mubarak was serving in his fifth, six-year term when he was
toppled by a mass uprising on Feb 11.

Under the amendments, the future president would also need to appoint a
deputy within 60 days of taking office. Mubarak kept the post empty until the
very end of his rule, when he appointed intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Bishri said presidential candidates must either have: the support of 30
members of parliament; or the backing of 30,000 eligible voters across about
half the country's governorates; or be nominated by a registered political
party with at least one member elected to either the upper or lower house of
parliament.

The constitutional amendments are to be put to a national referendum ahead
of parliamentary and presidential elections the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces has promised to hold within six months.

Elections would be subject to judicial supervision -- one of the main
demands of protesters and opposition groups behind the demonstrations that
forced Mubarak to step down and hand power to the armed forces.

The proposed amendments will make it complicated for a president to maintain
the state of emergency -- in place for decades -- which opposition activists
want lifted as part of their broad demands for reform to Egypt's autocratic
system of government.

The state of emergency is still in place, though the military council has
said it will lift it within six months.

Bishri said amendments to 11 articles of the constitution would be put to a
referendum and a new charter would be drawn up after elections.

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