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Mubarak Forms Reforms Committees As Protests Continue

Cairo, Feb 8 : Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak has set up a committee to discuss and recommend constitutional changes that will relax eligibility rules for who can run for president and limit the number
PTI February 08, 2011 17:01 IST
PTI
Cairo, Feb 8 : Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak has set up a committee to discuss and recommend constitutional changes that will relax eligibility rules for who can run for president and limit the number of presidential terms.

Vice President Omar Suleiman said Tuesday that Mubarak also decreed the creation of a separate committee to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms.

The moves are the first concrete steps taken by the longtime authoritarian ruler to implement reforms promised during two weeks of mass protests. So far government concessions have fallen short of the demands of protester demands that Mubarak immediately step down.

Mubarak also ordered a probe into clashes last week between the protesters and supporters of the president.

Meanwhile, protesters calling for Egypt's president to step down continued their sit-in at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday, as the anti-government protests entered their third week.

Demonstrators have vowed not to go home until President Hosni Mubarak leaves office.

Since 25 January, protesters have paralysed government institutions which centre on the square.

The Egyptian army has tried to open roads into the area, but protesters continue to block it with makeshift barricades.

The 82-year-old Mubarak has pledged not to seek another term in elections to be held in September.

Mubarak's newly-appointed Cabinet met for the first time on Monday, announcing a decision to increase pay for government employees by 15 percent in an attempt to shore up its base and defuse popular anger.

It follows earlier promises to investigate election fraud and official corruption.

The gestures so far appear to have done little to persuade the tens of thousands occupying Tahrir Square to end their protest.

Meanwhile the Obama administration has urged Egyptian leaders to include more people in a national dialogue on reform, but it did not endorse demands from protesters for the immediate resignation of Mubarak.

As Washington anxiously awaited political developments in its staunchest Arab ally, administration officials warned that a precipitous exit by Mubarak could set back the country's democratic transition.

After several days of mixed messages, the administration on Monday coalesced around a position that cautiously welcomed developing reform efforts begun by Egypt's newly appointed vice president.

Those efforts may or may not result in Mubarak's resignation before September, when elections are due to be held.

Under Egypt's constitution, Mubarak's resignation would trigger an election in 60 days, well before September and US officials said that would not enough time to prepare. AP