March 13, 2011 in Nation/World

Egypt to lift party rules

Presidential, parliamentary elections focus of vote
Sarah El Deeb Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Freed Islamic Jihad group member Tarek el-Zomor, in white, speaks to a policeman upon his release from Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt’s military rulers plan to scrap a law that has severely restricted the formation of political parties, a government official said Saturday, the latest liberalization of the strict regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The official said that the restrictions that gave Mubarak a virtual veto over establishment of political parties would be lifted after an upcoming referendum on constitutional changes to allow for fair parliamentary and presidential elections.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said new political parties will only need to notify authorities of their formation. Under Mubarak, they had to receive approval from a committee dominated by his ruling party, which ensured his control over rivals. The referendum scheduled March 19 asks Egyptians to vote on changes that would loosen restrictions on who could run for president, opening the field to independents and candidates from small opposition parties. Also, it would impose a two-term limit on future presidents.

Also Saturday, two cousins jailed for their role in the assassination of then-president Anwar Sadat in 1981 were released to a huge welcome, their lawyer Nizar Ghorab said.

The military council ordered their release Thursday.

Abboud and Tarek el-Zomor served multiple sentences for their role in the shooting death of Sadat during a Cairo military parade. Ghorab said they were kept behind bars because Mubarak’s regime feared their return to political life.

They were convicted in 1984 of plotting the assassination and of belonging to the outlawed Islamic Jihad group – but not of actually killing Sadat. The five prime suspects, including the shooter, were executed.

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