Egypt constitution reforms 'within 2-1/2 months'
Cairo, February 2, 2011
The speaker of Egypt's parliament said on Wednesday he wanted President Hosni Mubarak's promised constitutional reforms to be completed in less than two-and-half months, state television reported.
Mubarak said on Tuesday night he would not run again when his term ends in September and would work to change clauses in the constitution that at present make it almost impossible for any realistic presidential challenge to the candidate nominated by his ruling party.
Earlier, Egypt's armed forces told protesters clamouring for an end to Mubarak's 30-year-rule that their demands had been heard and they must clear the streets.
The army warning came as international pressure grew on Mubarak to quit and his closest ally, the United States, told him bluntly that a political transition must begin immediately.
But an opposition coalition called for the protests in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square to continue.
Crowds gathered in the square for a ninth day of protests, rejecting Mubarak's promise on Tuesday that he would not stand in elections scheduled for September. They want him to go now.
A military spokesman, addressing the protesters on state television on Wednesday morning, said: "The army forces are calling on you. You began by going out to express your demands and you are the ones capable of restoring normal life."
It was a clear call for protesters to leave the streets. And although the army had previously said the people had "legitimate demands" and soldiers would not open fire on them, it set up a possible confrontation if they failed to do so.
At the same time, curfew hours were eased. -Reuters