Egypt constitution referendum in March

2011-02-27 22:50

Cairo - Egypts' ruling military council is to call for a popular referendum on constitutional changes by the end of March, a member of the panel overseeing the amendments told AFP on Sunday.

"Within a week, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will call for a referendum on the proposed amendments," said lawyer Sobhi Saleh, a former Muslim Brotherhood MP.

"The plan of the armed forces it to hold the referendum before the end of March", he said.

Saleh said that if the amendments are approved, parliamentary elections could be held by the end of May.

The military council, which took power after the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak, instructed an eight-member panel of jurists and scholars to "amend all articles as it sees fit to guarantee democracy and the integrity of presidential and parliamentary elections".

On Saturday, the committee headed by Tark al-Bishri said it would seek to limit presidential terms to two, and reduce the length of each term to four years.

Under the current constitution, a president can serve an unlimited number of six-year terms.

Amr Moussa

The panel has also proposed that the president be at least 40, have two Egyptian parents with no other nationality, and not be married to a non-Egyptian.

Egypt has been under military rule since February 11 when Mubarak resigned following a wave of nationwide street protests that left at least 384 people dead, thousands wounded and scores detained.

When he resigned, Mubarak was approaching the end of his fifth term in office.

In a related development Arab League chief Amr Moussa says he will run in this year's presidential elections in Egypt.

Moussa's comments on Sunday came a day after a constitutional reform panel appointed by Egypt's military rulers recommended far-reaching reforms that relaxed eligibility rules for who qualifies to run for president.

Moussa enjoys wide popularity in Egypt, largely because of his scathing criticism of Israel, a country seen by most Egyptians as an enemy despite the 1979 peace treaty between the two neighbours.

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