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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Egypt electoral reform proposed
Egyptian parliament
Under the amendment, parliament would still approve candidates
A parliamentary committee in Egypt has proposed an electoral amendment that would allow contested presidential elections for the first time.

The amendment also imposes tough conditions on independent candidates.

Under the planned law an independent candidate would need to be endorsed by 65 of the 444 members of parliament.

Correspondents say an independent is unlikely to get such backing as the ruling party has an overwhelming majority in parliament.

Independents - including supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood - make up the most vigorous opposition in Egypt, but number fewer than the 65 needed to endorse an independent candidate.

The proposal - or an amended version of it - will be presented to parliament on Tuesday.

Reform calls

Reformers and opposition groups immediately criticised the amendment, saying it was designed to thwart any serious challenge to President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981 and is expected to seek a fifth six-year term later this year.

In February, Mr Mubarak proposed amending the constitution to allow multi-candidate elections, instead of voting in favour of or against a single candidate nominated by parliament.

Mr Mubarak proposed the amendment under domestic and US pressure to democratise the political system.

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