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Upcoming vote critical to Egypt’s ruling party
CAIRO | Egyptians are preparing to vote Saturday on constitutional amendments that critics say would put a Band-Aid on an illegitimate document and ensure government rule by Hosni Mubarak’s former party and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In their first free election in recent history, Egyptians will vote “yes” or “no” for a package of proposed amendments that would set the stage for parliamentary elections in June and presidential election in September.
The amendments include temporary democratic reforms intended to curb some of the near-absolute powers enjoyed by Mr. Mubarak and require the government to draft a new constitution - reforms called for during 18 days of protest that drove Mr. Mubarak out of office last month.
But critics, many of whom demonstrated daily against Mr. Mubarak’s nearly 30 years of autocratic rule, are calling for a temporary constitution to be drafted immediately.
They argue that if elections are held in June, political parties that have formed since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster will not have time to raise funds or campaign effectively. The former ruling National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood are the only parties that are organized and funded sufficiently to run campaigns over next 2 1/2 months.
“Only Muslim Brotherhood and National Democratic Party are ready for elections - and they will win,” said activist Amr Fekry in an email. “And it will not be a parliament which reflects the people in Egypt.”
Though Egypt's military has assumed oversight of a transitional government, members of the National Democratic Party still in power are the subject of constant protests by crowds in Cairo that want to rid the country of the former regime.
Activists also worry that there is no clear contingency plan if Egyptians reject the amendments.
Other Egyptians, who took to the streets in support of the uprising, say stability and economic recovery should now be top priorities. After seven weeks of turmoil, the Egyptian stock market remains closed and the tourism industry has all but flat-lined.
Business development specialist Amir Mohsen says the economic situation is improving too slowly, and the amendments are more constructive than continued protests. “It’s not the final thing we look for yet,” he said. “But it’s first step.”
The kind of stability that would lead to steady economic recovery, however, appears to be an increasingly illusive. Protests erupt daily across the city, for a large assortment of reasons.
At the University of Cairo, students and faculty accuse administrators allied with the former ruling party of corruption and overcharging students. Many schools have been closed for weeks, with no plans of reopening.
“When out demands are answered, we will stop protesting,” said Israh Samir, who sat with two friends on stone steps at the university carrying signs that read, “Get out” and “Game over.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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