ElBaradei's coalition outlines seven demands for Egyptian reform
A coalition of Egyptian opposition groups formed around ex-UN nuclear agency head Mohammed ElBaradei has laid out seven demands for political reform, widely published in independent Egyptian newspapers Tuesday.
The statement was the former International Atomic Energy Agency head's first on behalf of the opposition coalition since his dramatic return to Egypt late last month, DPA reported.
"The coalition's main goal is to work towards a political system built on democracy and social justice," ElBaradei said in the statement.
"The first step towards this goal is to provide basic assurance for free and fair elections for all Egyptians," he said.
Some 30 leading opposition figures met last week at ElBaradei's house on the outskirts of Cairo to form a group called the National Association for Change.
In the coalition's first formal statement, it called for the imposition of a two-term limit for presidents, and provision of "the right to nomination with no obstacles, in accordance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights."
Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak has been in power for nearly 30 years, and has vowed to continue serving until his "last breath."
Amendments to Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution passed in 2007 require presidential candidates to have been a member of a legal party's senior leadership for at least a year, or to secure the nomination of 250 local and national elected officials.
ElBaradei has held no senior position in a party. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has an overwhelming majority in Egypt's elected institutions, making it difficult for an independent to stand for the presidency without the NDP's blessing.
The coalition further called for an end to Egypt's Emergency Law, which has been in place without interruption since 1981. The law allows for indefinite detention and for the trial of civilians before military courts.
It also called for full judicial supervision of elections, in concert with Egyptian and international monitors.
Amendments to Article 88 of the constitution passed in 2007 removed judicial supervision of elections in favour of supervision by "an independent electoral commission" that would include some judges.
Senior Egyptian judges initially refused to certify the 2005 presidential elections, Egypt's first with more than one candidate, citing reports of irregularities.
The coalition further called for all candidates to have sufficient access to the media in the presidential election campaign, for Egyptians abroad to be allowed to vote through consulates, and the use of identification-card numbers in balloting to discourage fraud.
ElBaradei said that he recognised that the demands would require amendments to the constitution, and called for the changes to be made "as soon as possible."