February 26, 2011 / 5:57 PM / in 8 years

Factbox: Reaction to proposed Egypt constitution changes

(Reuters) - An Egyptian judicial committee appointed by the ruling military council on Saturday unveiled proposed amendments to the constitution designed to pave the way to parliamentary and presidential elections in the next six months.

It proposed capping to eight years the time a president can stay in office and loosening the rules that curbed competition for the post. Those amendments, among others, will be put to a referendum.

Following are reactions of opposition figures and analysts:

ABOU ELELA MADY, FOUNDER OF THE WASAT PARTY (Center PARTY)

“Two terms of four years is excellent. There is some difficulty in meeting the terms they set (for candidacy), but they’re not bad.” “The autocratic regime had closed all windows. We had hoped for this, but if the January 25 revolution had not happened, none of this would have been achieved.”

“The only reservation I have is about the shura council (the upper house of parliament). It should have been dissolved for good. It has no value.”

OPPOSITION FIGURE AYMAN NOUR

“I still have reservations on the amendments. I ask to have an elected vice president. There should be a change to give political parties freedom to be formed and there should be a limitation on the powers of the president.”

MOHAMED EL-KATATNI, SPOKESMAN FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

On proposed limits to presidential terms, he said: “It’s a good amendment so there can be a real transfer of power because open-ended terms led to despotism. When the president knows that the period is a maximum of eight years, his despotism will be reduced or completely eliminated.”

On amendments concerning the emergency law, he said: “This is also a good change because the state of emergency was renewed every two to three years. This way, there could be a limit to the state of emergency.”

On the demand that the president appoint a deputy within 60 days, he said: “My opinion is that the vice president should be elected.”

GAMAL EID, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

“These are acceptable changes given the limited time, but I wish that the second article of the constitution could have been changed to make Islamic law one of many principles for legislation and not the principal one.”

NABIL ABDEL FATTAH, POLITICAL ANALYST AT AL-AHRAM Center FOR

POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC STUDIES

“To place an article that states that the term of presidency is four years and that (the president) cannot surpass two consecutive terms could be one of the biggest changes to our constitution in the next phase.”

“The state of emergency must be lifted because it should only be used to confront situations of large-scale rebellion in certain areas or natural disasters.”

MUSTAPHA KAMAL AL-SAYYID, POLITICAL SCIENTIST

“It would have been better to draft the whole constitution rather than to limit the work of the committee. This would have required time but it would have been better to prepare a new constitution that would endow Egypt with a constitution with a respect for human rights and which establishes the proper balance between the three branches of government.”

“The constitution provides for the right of Egyptians to establish political parties according to the law but the law restricts the right to establish political parties.”

“It could have been simply said (in the amendments) that Egyptians have the right to establish political parties, with founders simply informing the authorities.”

“We need to change this law.”

Reporting by Yasmine Saleh, Tom Perry and Sarah Mikhail; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Caroline Drees

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