Monday, January 03, 2005

Hints of Reform in Egypt

The BBC reports on the growing call for reform in Egypt:

A few weeks ago hundreds of activists staged an unprecedented protest in Cairo to declare their opposition to a new term for Mr Mubarak.

Many placed over their mouths stickers saying "Enough".

In October, 26 civil society groups launched a petition demanding constitutional reforms before the expiry of the president's mandate.

They continue to collect signatures, and say they will eventually present the document to parliament.

This challenge comes at a time when "reform" has become a catchword not only for the opposition, but also for the government.

With the United States launching repeated initiatives for reform in the Middle East, all governments in the region feel under pressure to declare a commitment to some kind of change. [Emphasis added.]

"The government can clamp down on us," said human rights activist Ahmed Seif al-Islam.

"But it would pay a heavily political price because it is trying to send a message to the West saying that is carrying out reforms."

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