Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Pres. Mubarak says new laws in 2007 will improve democracy in Egypt

Pres. Mubarak says new laws in 2007 will improve democracy in Egypt

President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday that laws to be passed in the New Year would improve democracy and abolish Egypt's 25-year state of emergency, but rights activists said they doubted the long-serving leader would liberalize the country.
During his campaign ahead of the Sept. 2005, presidential elections Mubarak promised to launch political reforms, responding to mounting domestic and international pressure since Sept. 11.
Laying out the legislative agenda for 2007, Mubarak told lawmakers he was asking them to amend 34 articles in the Egyptian constitution to "consecrate the people's sovereignty as a source of power and give parliament more authority to monitor the government."
"Today's historic step opens the door wide for democracy and its practice," Mubarak said in a speech at his palace in Cairo. After he finished, the parliament met to consider his proposals.
A leading Egyptian rights activist, Hesham Kasem, was skeptical of the president's pledge as he has promised greater democracy many times before during his 25 years in power.
"We have to go back to the gap between the regime's actual practices and the demand for amendments ... Will the regime really implement these amendments?" said Kasem, the president of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. Previous amendments were "followed by theatrical debate while everything was already fixed."
Most of the reforms outlined Tuesday were promised by Mubarak in his election campaign of 2005, but none came to parliament this year.
It is thought the government got cold feet when, two months after the president elections, the opposition Muslim Brotherhood did surprisingly well in the legislative elections of 2005.
Opposition parties and political observers have long accused Mubarak, 78, and his National Democratic Party of rigging elections and using the emergency laws _ introduced after President Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981 _ to stifle dissent in Egypt. The emergency gives the government sweeping powers to detain suspects and restrict public gatherings.
"The security of the nation and its stability and the security of the citizens is my first responsibility and a red line that I will not allow anyone to cross," Mubarak said Tuesday. "I asked last year to draft a law to combat terrorism to replace the current emergency law."
He did not give a time for the passage of the new anti-terrorism law and the amendments, but the government-controlled newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Tuesday that parliament was expected to pass them within three months. Afterward, the amendments would go to a referendum for popular approval, the paper added.
"Democracy is not merely a matter of constitutional or legislative texts. It is a culture and practice, and I call on you to take additional steps to consecrate democracy and employ it as a cultural phenomenon," the president said to lawmakers.
Mubarak said the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, would be revamped from a consultative body to one that vets new laws.
He also said some presidential powers would be devolved to the parliament, but he did not say which.
The constitutional amendments would include provisions for drafting a new electoral law and strengthening the monitoring of polls, he said.
The president said he wanted to give more scope for participation in the presidential polls. Opposition parties have accused the government of placing high barriers in the way of challengers seeking to contest the presidency.
Mubarak also said a certain number of places should be reserved for women in the 454-seat parliament, but he did not propose a figure. Five women currently hold seats in the legislature.
pvs-sn-wnt


Updated : 2021-06-13 05:13 GMT+08:00