Egypt regime offers new concessions; opposition not too happy
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
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.
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