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Many in Egypt complain that six months is too short a time to introduce meaningful change and weed out remnants of the former regime. Others suspect the military is eager to get out of the business of governing Egypt before its own reputation gets tainted by perceived failure to solve the country’s endless problems.

“No one wants the military to stay in power for a long time and the military itself does not want to stay in power longer than necessary,” said Nadim Mansour, a political analyst and human rights activist with Egypt’s Hisham Mubarak Center.

Some also say the relatively short time allowed for the two elections would enable the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood to sweep parliamentary elections at the expense of dozens of new parties born out of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

These fears have found resonance with Egypt’s top pro-reform activist, Nobel laureate and former head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency Mohamed ElBaradei, who intends to run for president.

“We are at a decisive period in Egypt’s history,” he told a private TV station last week. “We shouldn’t rush. Everything should be on a solid basis … I can’t rule Egypt for one day under this constitution.”

Political analyst Amr Hamzawy laments that the legal experts assigned by the military to draft the amendments worked in virtual secrecy and complains that amending a constitution that is widely opposed for giving the executive branch too much powers would annul a key goal of the Jan.25-Feb.11 uprising.

“The amendments were rushed,” he said. “Being asked to vote on the entire package of amendments rather than each one does not reflect the popular will,” he said.

Mohammed Hassanein Abdelaal, one of the legal experts who drafted the amendments, said the debate in Egypt was not so much about the changes they proposed but on whether the country should have done away with the entire process and instead focused on writing a new constitution.

He, however, argued that the changes made it obligatory for the next legislature to elect a panel to draft a new constitution within the first six months of its inaugural session. He argued that that addresses the demands for greater change.

Critics maintain that a general election this summer would produce an “unbalanced” legislature that would in turn elect an unbalanced panel tasked with drafting a new constitution.

“We still have time to persuade the military to cancel the referendum, if not we can at least work for a ‘no’ vote,” said Israa Abdel-Fattah, a prominent political activist. “If the constitution is illegitimate, then the amendments are illegitimate too. There is no such thing as a de facto situation.”