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Egypt military appoints judges to amend constitution

The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced Tuesday that it has formed a committee of judges and politicians to oversee amending the Egyptian constitution [text] within the next 10 days. When the council assumed power on Sunday, it indicated that part of its transition plan [proclamation text] was to form a committee to amend constitutional articles prior to holding a public referendum. The plan follows the intentions of ousted president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile], who had approved the formation of a panel [JURIST report] to amend the constitution before he resigned. The changes may also allow the creation of new political parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is currently banned in Egypt, announced on Tuesday that it will form a party [LAT report] to participate in upcoming elections. Critics say that 10 days is not enough time [Telegraph report] for the committee to make substantial changes to the constitution, such as abolishing Article 2, which upholds Sharia law [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. However, the new committee also suggests that the military council is on track to hold elections in six months [Indian Express report] and return power to the Egyptian people.

The military pledged last week to lift the emergency laws [JURIST report] that have been in place since Mubarak assumed power. Prior to Mubarak's resignation, Egypt's government had reached out [JURIST report] to various opposition leaders in the wake of demonstrations that swept the country. Among those in the opposition that have been approached are the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and largest Islamic political group in the world. According to some commentators, the unrest in Egypt is closely related to the recent civil unrest in Tunisia [JURIST op-ed] that culminated last month with the resignation of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali [JURIST report].

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