Sunday’s papers: Constitutional amendments and an army apology

Both state-owned and independent newspapers shed light today on the amendments proposed for a number of constitutional articles that have long been regarded as obstacles to Egyptian political reform

State-run Al-Ahram reports that the changes would limit presidential terms to two consecutive four-year periods, and stipulate that the future president should be born to two Egyptians parents and may not acquire another nationality. In addition, his wife cannot be foreign.

Article 76, which pertains to presidential elections, was amended to ease the conditions that long served the manipulative policy of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). 

According to Al-Ahram's report, the proposed changes ensure that presidential candidates are either supported by at least 30 parliamentarians or the votes of 30,000 citizens in 15 different Egyptian governorates.

Another significant amendment–to article 76–would make it obligatory for the president to appoint a deputy within the first two months of taking office. In case of the vice president's dismissal, a substitute must be appointed, the paper adds.

The top of Al-Shorouk's front displays the headline “The army apologizes for beating protesters in Tahrir.”

On its Facebook page, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued an apology yesterday for the brutal force used against protesters.

On Friday night, soldiers beat people, used tasers and damaged tents in an attempt to disperse protests. The army also arrested dozens of young people in front of People’s Assembly building and in Tahrir Square.  

According to the independent paper, the army said this was unintentional and no orders were issued to attack protesters. It pledged to take all measures necessary to guarantee this does not happen again.

On the same issue, daily state-run Al-Gomhorriya writes that although the SCAF released Friday's detainees, thousands took to the streets on Saturday to resume a sit-in demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and trial of former corrupt officials who are described as the remains of the old regime.

Al-Dostour, another independent paper, reports that Dokki Prosecution investigated five employees from the National Organization for Economic Policies, founded by NDP senior official Ahmed Ezz, for destroying some documents related to the 2010 parliamentary elections.

The paper states that the documents included popular referendums concerning the candidates running for both the Shura Council and People’s Assembly last year. The defendants said that they got rid of the documents because they were unimportant, denying having received orders to do so for other reasons. 

It is reported that investigations also found other documents in Ezz’s office concerning the budgets of the years 2004 and 2005.

The prosecution released the employees but will continue to hear the testimony of other employees, says the paper.

Ezz is one of a number of former officials accused of contributing to the fraudulent sweeping victory of the NDP in 2010 legislative elections. 

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