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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 15:41 GMT
Excerpts: Egypt's president on election reforms
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak: Change is the "fruit of economic stability"

President Hosni Mubarak's keynote speech on electoral reform, at a rally in Minufiya on Saturday, was broadcast live by Egyptian satellite TV.

Mr Mubarak called on parliament to amend Egypt's constitution to allow direct presidential elections in which anyone can stand and all citizens can vote by secret ballot. The following are excerpts from his address:

Brothers and sisters, I was keen on meeting you today to speak, through you, to all the people of Egypt and to outline of the future of our national work and ways of strengthening our reform path...

In the past few years we have taken serious steps on the road to reform in view of the current constitution which ensured the atmosphere of freedom and democracy, as it attached great care to freedoms and rights and guaranteeing them.

This constitution stressed the sovereignty of law and the independence of judicial authorities. It established the principle of separation of authorities, allowed economic changes, reorganised relations between citizens and the state and opened the door to political plurality.

Out of my keenness to continue on the road to freedom... I submitted a request this morning to the People's Assembly and the Shura Council to amend Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution regarding the system of electing the president of the republic, so that the two councils can start discussing it and suggest a proper amendment in a way that conforms with the conditions of the current stage.

This is the first step before submitting it to a public referendum before the forthcoming presidential elections.

'Historic moment'

I specified in this request certain basic principles which guarantee the achievement of the objective on the grounds that the election of the president of the republic should be made through a secret public direct voting, allowing political parties to take part in the presidential elections and providing guarantees that allow more than one candidate to participate in the elections for the president of the republic so that people can make a free choice between them. [applause]

This historical amendment in the process of our constitutional life allows for the first time in Egypt's political history the opportunity to all who have the ability to give, the desire to serve the country, to cope with the responsibility of protecting people's achievements and providing care for the people and their future, to submit their nominations, within a framework of the parliamentarian and popular support, for the direct election of the president of the republic.

Brothers and sisters, this historical decisive moment is the fruit of economic stability which we enjoy. This basic change is a confirmation of the republican democratic regime that aims to maintain the sovereignty of the people and respect for its will and enable it to have the first and last say in choosing whoever it wants to lead its process.

I took this initiative to start a new era through which we will proceed towards new horizons on the road to reform, and march in confidence towards a future that carries more prosperity for us...

Let us advance towards the future with the heart and mind of one man, agreeing on a pure national will and let us work together with a sincere national conscience to protect what we have built and add to what we have achieved for the sake of a better future for a great nation that deserves all the giving and sacrifice from us...

May God protect Egypt, the dear cherished homeland. May God bless the people of Egypt.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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