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Egypt to begin process of lifting emergency laws

[JURIST] Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif [official profile] has announced an 18-month timetable for lifting the state of emergency that Egypt [JURIST news archive] has lived under since 1981. The administration of President Hosni Mubarak [official website, BBC profile] will present proposed changes to the Egyptian Constitution [text] to parliament this year, with a referendum on those changes expected in the summer. Egypt has remained under the emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder; JURIST report], which give the president quasi-military control over the population, since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat [CNN profile]. After the referendum, the government hopes to introduce new anti-terror laws that would replace the emergency laws.

Proposed changes to the constitution would limit the president to two seven-year terms of office. Mubarak has governed since 1981. Another proposed change, announced by Mubarak [JURIST report] last week, would allow political parties with one member in either house of parliament to nominate a presidential candidate. The present system grants that privilege only to parties holding 5 percent of the seats in each house. The reforms will not allow the opposition Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] to nominate a presidential candidate, however. Reuters has more.

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