WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States voiced regret Saturday at the absence of women on a committee tasked with proposing amendments to Egypt’s constitution despite their participation in protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
“Women in #Egypt protested for change. It is a concern that women are excluded from the constitutional committee that must ensure all rights,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley tweeted.
The nationwide protests that erupted on January 25 drove strongman Mubarak from power after his 30-year rule and saw a new military leadership assume what it says is temporary control over the Arab world’s most populous nation.
The military has promised to reform the constitution and help stage free elections to ensure the return of civilian rule — but Egyptians are wary.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has vowed to pave the way for democracy in a transitional period of six months, leading to parliamentary and presidential elections following key constitutional changes.
But many have questioned whether six months is long enough and whether the proposed reforms go far enough in removing what the opposition describes as the “god-like” powers granted to the president.
The constitutional changes being discussed have revolved around easing restrictions for presidential candidates, setting presidential term limits, and judicial supervision for elections.
Opposition groups are also looking for Egypt’s restrictive parties law to be amended, to give banned movements — including the Muslim Brotherhood — and emerging youth groups the chance to form legal political parties.
On Saturday, Egypt’s administrative court approved the country’s first Islamic party, the official MENA news agency reported, after it had unsuccessfully sought for years to obtain legal status.
The Wasat party was founded in 1996 by former Muslim Brotherhood members who believed in a more liberal interpretation of Islam but was repeatedly denied party status by a now dissolved committee that fielded such requests.
The party has strained ties with the larger and better organized Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned since 1954.
A conglomerate of youth groups that helped launch the uprising, the Coalition of the Revolution’s Youth, has urged a complete change from a presidential system to a parliamentary system.