Egypt’s military rulers plan to scrap a law that has severely restricted the formation of political parties, a government official said on Saturday, the latest liberalization of the strict regime of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
The official said that the restrictions that gave Mubarak a virtual veto over the establishment of political parties would be lifted after a referendum next week on constitutional changes to allow for fair parliamentary and presidential elections.
Alongside the pledge for reform, that was a clear statement that the rulers are rejecting demands by reformers to postpone or call off the referendum.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said new political parties would only need to notify authorities of their formation. Under Mubarak, they had to receive approval from a committee dominated by his ruling party, which ensured his control over rivals.
The referendum scheduled for March 19 asks Egyptians to vote on changes that would loosen restrictions on who could run for president, opening the field to independents and candidates from small opposition parties. Also, it would impose a two-term limit on future presidents.
The previous system allowed Mubarak to rule for three decades and gave his ruling National Democratic Party a veto over who could run against him.
Critics say the changes don’t go deep enough to change what they see as a faulty Constitution, nor do they limit the powers of the next president.
The protesters also complain the plan to hand over power to a civilian administration six months after the military took charge means that parliamentary elections would come too soon and deny new political parties a chance to campaign.
They fear that old political players, such as Mubarak’s ruling party or the Muslim Brotherhood, would take control of a new parliament.
The Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized political group, welcomed the proposed amendments and said it would vote in favor.
Also on Saturday, two cousins jailed for their role in the assassination of then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981 were released to a huge welcome, their lawyer Nizar Ghorab said.
The military council ordered their release on Thursday.
Abboud and Tarek el-Zomor served multiple sentences for their role in the shooting death of Sadat during a Cairo military parade.
Ghorab said they were kept behind bars because Mubarak’s regime feared their return to political life.
They were convicted in 1984 of plotting the assassination and of belonging to the outlawed Islamic Jihad group — but not of actually killing Sadat. The five prime suspects, including the shooter, were captured and executed.
Tarek el-Zomor was ordered released in July 2005, but he was not set free because of the Interior Ministry’s discretionary power to hold a prisoner for up to five more years on security grounds.
Abboud el-Zomor was also expected to be released after serving his term but, was kept behind bars on the same grounds.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered