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Mubarak starts work on reform

Egyptian anti-government demonstrators stand behind a barbed wire fence at Tahrir Square in Cairo in Egypt on February 6, 2011 on the 13th day of protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. UPI
Egyptian anti-government demonstrators stand behind a barbed wire fence at Tahrir Square in Cairo in Egypt on February 6, 2011 on the 13th day of protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. UPI | License Photo

CAIRO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said Tuesday that Cairo was working on a commission to amend parts of the country's constitution.

Anti-government protesters and members of the Egyptian opposition want key articles dealing with the powers of the president and so-called emergency laws amended as part of their demands for sweeping political reform.

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Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued orders Tuesday to form a commission that would oversee proposed amendments to the Egyptian Constitution, Suleiman said.

Suleiman added that Mubarak ordered lawmakers to form a separate committee that would handle agreements reached with members of the opposition as well as incidents of violent repression, Egyptian daily newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reports.

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Egypt has entered its third week of street protests. Protesters are calling for Mubarak to step down, though he said that wouldn't happen until later this year.

Suleiman and other government officials, including Mubarak, said immediate transition to inclusive democracy would be chaotic, though the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest of the opposition groups, said Mubarak should stand down immediately.

Mubarak's health is in question following gall bladder surgery last year. He was allegedly grooming his son Gamal for the presidency, failing to officially commit to a re-election bid later this year.

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Washington said it would like to see a quick move toward democracy in Egypt, but ultimately left things for the Egyptians to sort out.

"We want to have an inclusive process," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "The role that President Mubarak plays in this, the role that others play in this, those are decisions to be made inside Egypt."

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