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Egypt starts amending constitution

Agencies | Updated: 2013-07-22 08:16

CAIRO - A panel of legal experts started work on Sunday to revise Egypt's Islamist-tinged constitution, a vital first step on the road to fresh elections ordered by the army following its removal of Mohammed Morsi as president.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which has accused the army of orchestrating a military coup and denounced plans to revise the constitution, staged fresh rallies on Sunday to maintain pressure on the new, interim government.

Setting a highly ambitious timeframe, the military wants new elections in around six months and has tasked a panel of 10 legal experts to present proposed changes to the constitution within 30 days for review before a broader-based body.

The original constitution was approved by a referendum last year, but critics said the text failed to protect human rights, minorities and social justice.

Ali Awad Saleh, a judge and the constitutional affairs adviser for the newly installed president, chaired Sunday's panel, saying it would spend the next week receiving ideas from "citizens, political parties, and all sides".

Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, Egypt's main secular political alliance, called the start of the committee's work "a very positive development".

The Muslim Brotherhood has shown no sign it is ready to engage with the new administration or the army, sticking firmly to its demand for the full restoration of Morsi , who has been held in an undisclosed location since his downfall on July 3.

Army and judiciary sources denied a report in state-run Al-Ahram newspaper's early Monday edition that the public prosecutor had ordered the arrest of Morsi for 15 days pending an investigation into charges of spying and inciting violence.

A few thousand women, children and men marched from the site of a round-the-clock, pro-Morsi vigil in a Cairo suburb on Sunday, moving to within sight of the defence ministry, ringed by barbed wire and protected by well-armed soldiers.

"Why, Sisi why, why did you kill our sisters?" the crowd chanted, referring to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the defence minister who played a central role in forcing Morsi from office following mammoth street protests against the Islamist ruler.

More than 100 people have died in violent clashes this month, including three women taking part in a pro-Morsi rally in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura on Friday.

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