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Egypt: Mubarak forms reform committees

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By Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — President Hosni Mubarak set up a committee Tuesday to recommend constitutional amendments to relax presidential eligibility rules and impose term limits — seeking to meet longtime popular demands as a standoff with protesters seeking his ouster enters its third week.

Mubarak's decrees were announced on state television by Vice President Omar Suleiman, who also said that Mubarak will set up a separate committee to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. The two committees will start working immediately, he said.

The government has promised several concessions since the uprising began on Jan. 25 but has refused the protesters' main demand that Mubarak step down immediately instead of staying on through September elections. Tuesday's decision was the first concrete step taken by the longtime authoritarian ruler to implement promised reforms.

Mubarak's efforts to stay in office got a boost from the Obama administration, which conceded that it will not endorse calls for the president's immediate departure, saying a precipitous exit could set back the country's democratic transition.


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