Egypt regime offers new concessions; opposition not too happy
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Last Updated: Monday, February 07, 2011, 00:04
Cairo: Egypt's ruling regime and the opposition held landmark negotiations and came up with a preliminary roadmap for political reforms and constitutional changes but their progress was stuck on the central question of Hosni Mubarak's immediate ouster from power.

The government held talks with several opposition groups including the largest opposition force the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed in the country and agreed on setting up a committee to study and suggest by first week of March constitutional amendments, mainly on limiting the terms of a president and on who can contest for the top post.

But, the Muslim Brotherhood played down the concessions offered by the regime, saying they do not trust the authorities to follow through on promised reforms. The developments came even as tens of thousands of Egyptians converged at the now iconic Tahrir Square to observe the day as the 'Day of Martyrs' in remembrance of their countrymen killed in the uprising.

The talks and the agreements were achieved on the 13th day of protests against the Mubarak regime, but the demonstrators refused to budge from their central demand that the 82-year-old President relinquishes power immediately.

"We cannot call it talks or negotiations... The Muslim Brotherhood went with a key condition that cannot be abandoned ... that (Mubarak) needs to step down in order to usher in a democratic phase," Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a member of the MB, told Al Jazeera.

While the regime has said that Mubarak, as president till September, would preside over a peaceful transition to a more representative government, but the protesters have insisted that Mubarak should go now.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq meanwhile told CNN that Mubarak has no immediate plans to quit hi position and that he intends to stay on till the end of his term in September.

The talks came a day after the ruling National Democratic Party saw a major shake up, with resignations of most of its leaders including the president's son Gamal.

The talks resulted in an agreement over the setting up of a committee comprising political and judicial figures to study possible constitutional amendments on putting term limits for the presidential tenures and defining rules for who can run for the presidency.

But, Vice President Omar Suleiman did not agree to an opposition proposal that the President's powers be transferred to him in line with a constitutional provision.

Meanwhile, Egyptians in thousands assembled at the Tahrir Square to offer respects to those killed in the past 13 days with Muslims and Christians holding prayers at the square and sticking to their main demand that Mubarak should go before the transition begins.


First Published: Monday, February 07, 2011, 00:04

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