Egyptians to vote on constitution

16 March 2011

Referendum to be held on 19 March

Egypt is set to hold a referendum on 19 March on amendments to the constitution.

The proposed amendments include a limit on the number of terms a president can hold, from four terms to two. Also, independents and opposition members would be allowed to run for the office of president.

The amendments would restore full judicial supervision of elections, seen as key to preventing fraud.

Ex-president Hosni Mubarak maintained his position of power for nearly 30 years using the extended emergency laws. Under the new rules, a referendum would be required to extend the emergency law beyond six months.

The new constitution has gained a lot of support as many Egyptians see it as a swift move towards democracy. However, it has attracted some criticism. Opponents say the proposed amendments fail to go far enough in their reforms.

The amendments would pave the way for early elections. Some are in favour of doing so, to instate a democratically elected government, in the hope the move would limit the economic damage to the country’s economy.

Others are concerned that early elections would disadvantage new parties and presidential hopefuls, as they would not have sufficient time to form policies and a campaign.

Prominent presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has spoken out against holding the elections too soon. Established parties including the Muslim Brotherhood are largely in favour of holding early elections.

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