Egypt constitution panel to propose six amendments

The commission has agreed to look into changes to Article 76, which restricts who can stand for the presidency, and Article 77, which removed limits on how long a president can stay in office, helping the veteran incumbent to his now 30 years in office.

The panel made no mention of the decades-old state of emergency, which human rights watchdogs say makes a mockery of supposed freedoms of expression and assembly, and which Washington says should immediately be lifted.

It did agree to change Article 88 on judicial supervision of elections, as well as Article 93, which governs appeals against official results, and Article 179, which gives the president the right to order a military trial for civilians accused of terrorist acts.

Also under review is Article 189, which currently allows only the president and the speaker of parliament to call for constitutional amendments. On Sunday, newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman -- regarded as Washington's favoured figure to oversee a transition from Mubarak's 30-year rule in the face of two weeks of protests -- met representatives of opposition groups, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

After the talks, the government said the parties had agreed to form a committee of judges and politicians to study constitutional amendments. Since January 25, Egypt has been gripped by protests against Mubarak's rule, which have severely hit the tourism-dependent economy.

The demonstrators have rejected offers by Mubarak to step down when his term ends in September, insisting he go immediately.

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