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As a result, the existing political parties are hollow shells, with little public following. The constitution also explicitly bans any parties formed on a religious basis.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned since 1954, could not form a party but ran candidates for parliament as independents. In 2005, it made a surprisingly strong showing, winning 20 percent of parliament’s seats. But it was pushed out completely in the most recent election in November and December, plagued by fraud.

The Brotherhood announced Tuesday that it would form a party once promised freer laws are in place.

“The Muslim Brotherhood group believes in the freedom of the formation of political parties. They are eager to have a political party,” spokesman Mohammed Mursi said in a statement on the Brotherhood website.

Essam el-Erian, a senior leader in the Brotherhood, said the movement would not run any candidate for upcoming presidential elections, acknowledging that such a move would be too controversial.

“We are not going to have a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. Its time for solidarity, its time for unity, in my opinion we need a national consensus,” he said. But he said the Brotherhood’s top leadership had decided on the creation of a party.

The Brotherhood seeks an Islamic state in Egypt, and Mr. Mubarak’s regime depicted it as aiming to take over the country, launching fierce crackdowns on the group. Some Egyptians remain deeply suspicious of the secretive organization, fearing it will exploit the current turmoil to vault to power.

But others — including the secular, liberal youth activists who launched the anti-Mubarak uprising — say the Brotherhood has to be allowed freedom to compete in a democracy alongside everyone else. Support by young cadres in the Brotherhood was key to the protests’ success, providing manpower and organization, though they never came to form a majority in the wave of demonstrations.

The new constitutional panel is mandated to draw up amendments within 10 days to be put to a referendum, paving the way for elections. The military specified six articles to be amended or thrown out “along with changes to any connected articles that the committee deems necessary,” according to the military’s statement to the panel, read to the Associated Press by Mr. Abdel-Al.

“This is a critical moment and things have to be dealt with on a priority basis,” Mr. Abdel-Al said of the decision to focus on those select articles, which are the main ones imposing restrictions on elections and allowing the president to run as many times as he wants. “This is a preliminary requirement to hold free democratic elections … our task is to make it feasible for that to happen.”

“The future parliament and government can decide whether to make further amendments or rewrite the whole thing,” he said.

Mr. Saleh, the Brotherhood member on the panel, said the goal was to “cleanse” the constitution to ensure freedom of political parties and other rights ahead of the election. “After the transition to a democratic life and freedoms, parties and political forces can get together and work on a complete constitution,” he said.

The Armed Forces Supreme Council, grouping the defense minister and top generals, has vowed to hand over power to an elected civilian government. It has dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution — steps that encouraged protest leaders because both were pillars of the Mubarak regime. But it has kept in place the last government installed by Mubarak as a caretaker until a new one is named.

Protesters have welcomed many of the military’s moves, but remain suspicious whether it will completely hand over power or change the system.

MENA’s Tuesday report showed some defensiveness on the council about Mr. Mubarak. It said they praised Mr. Mubarak for his decision to resign which saved the country from “untold disaster.” They denied what they called “fabricated stories” about the former leader, arguing that he had long track record of achievements but that his rule was not without mistakes.

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