Egyptian regime, opposition agree on forming reform committee

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Rania

Cairo, Feb 6 (PTI) The campaign against EgyptianPresident Hosni Mubarak took a decisive turn today as theregime and opposition groups including the outlawed MuslimBrotherhood agreed to form a committee to study constitutionalreform to chart a way towards a transition of power.

Egypt''s opposition groups and the ruling regimeentered into landmark negotiations today that came after 13days of unrelenting street protests by Egyptians seeking anend to Mubarak''s 30-year rule and a move towards arepresentative government.

The first day of talks resulted in an agreement over athe setting up of a committee comprising political andjudicial figures to study possible constitutional amendmentson putting term limits for the presidential tenures anddefining rules for who can run for the presidency, accordingto the state media.

However, there is so far no confirmation on this fromthe opposition camp.

This is the first time that Egypt''s ruling regime hasentered into any kind of negotiations with the Brotherhoodwhich has a vast organisational network in the country and iswidely expected to fill the political space in a post-Mubarakdemocratic Egypt.

The committee has been asked to finish its task by thefirst week of March following which the future course ofaction will be decided.

However, so far there appears to be no indication thatMubarak would step down immediately as demanded by thethousands of protesters who have been camping at Cairo''sTahrir Square.

The opposition groups met Vice President OmarSuleiman to press for their "legitimate demands", even ascentral Cairo remained flooded with demonstrators who observeda ''Day of Martyrs'' to honour those killed in theanti-government unrest.

The landmark talks aimed at bringing a peaceful end tothe mass uprising came a day after the top leadership ofEgypt''s ruling National Democratic Party resigned en masse.

The top executive of the NDP, which includes Mubarak''sson Gamal Mubarak who is head of the powerful policiescommittee, resigned from the party.

According to the Brotherhood''s website, group''s seniorleaders began the talks, demanding an immediate elimination ofEmergency Law and guarantees for peaceful protests.

"We are starting a round of talks to know how seriousthey are about responding to the demands of the people," saidBrotherhood spokesman Gamal Abul Nasser.

Brotherhood, which is officially banned in Egypt butenjoys popular support, said it would drop out if demandsexpressed by the protesters that President Mubarak must stepdown is not met. .

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