CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a review and amendment of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in September.
"This morning I have asked the parliament and the Shura Council to amend Article 76 of the constitution, which deals with the election of the president to discuss it and suggest the appropriate amendment to be in line with this stage of our nation's history," Mubarak said in a speech broadcast live on Egyptian television.
He said the amendment would be put to a general public referendum before the presidential polls, scheduled for September.
The surprise announcement follows increasing opposition calls for political reforms, including multi-candidate presidential elections.
Currently, Egypt holds presidential referendums in which people vote "yes" or "no" for a single candidate who has been approved by parliament. The legislature has been dominated by Mubarak's ruling party since political parties were restored in the 1970s.
I will be working on the details of this today, but here is my instant analysis:
Here is the story from the official MENA agency:
09:22:00 (GMT) 26-02-05
Egypt-Mubarak-Constitution Mubarak wants article 76 of constitution amended
SHIBIN EL-KOM, Egypt, Feb 26 (MENA) - President Hosni Mubarak said he
submitted a request this morning to the People's Assembly and Shura
Council to have article 76 of the Egyptian constitution, pertaining to the
way a president of the republic is selected, amended.
Mubarak, during a speech he delivered Saturday at a popular rally at the University of Menoufiya Conference Centre, said the parliament will
start debating it and offer the proper amendment in line with the requirements of this stage of our nation's history .
He said this historic amendment in Egypt's constitutional march
offers for the first time a chance for whoever is able and wishes to serve
the nation to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the country's
The president said whoever wants to run for presidency must come within
a parliamentary and popular framework for direct presidential elections.
Just a few more thoughts: Menoufiya is where Mubarak was born and probably was of the places where he is most genuinely popular. The crowds being shown on TV looked unusually jubilant; that might be why. I also wonder what is meant by "whoever wants to run for presidency must come within a parliamentary and popular framework."
Here is the Reuters story. It brings this news quote on Mubarak's justification for the amendment:
"to give the opportunity to political parties to enter the presidential elections and provide guarantees that allow more than one candidate to be put forward to the presidency for people to choose among them freely."
Combined with the above-mentioned "parliamentary framework" this could mean candidates will either have to be MPs or party members (or leaders.)