Fox News reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has taken a significant step towards democratic reform by ordering the constitution changed to allow presidential challengers to appear on the ballot this fall. This decision constitutes a reversal of course by Mubarak. And, as Captain Ed notes, it occurs one day after Condoleezza Rice snubbed Mubarak by cancelling a long-planned trip to Cairo in protest of the arrest of a leading activist for democracy. The U.S. recently has been pushing for democratic reform in Egypt.
Opposition parties and reform activists contend that the changes do not go far enough and may only be cosmetic. However, Ayman Nour, a strong proponent of open elections who was arrested in Egypt last month, calls the reform “an important and courageous move” towards “comprehensive constitutional reform.”
Captain Ed also notes that another opponent of Mubarak, Aida Seif el-Dawla, complained that Mubarak’s decision was a concession to the U.S. rather than the heart-felt result of a national dialogue. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. And it’s clear that, from Lebanon to Egypt, key figures can see the positive role the U.S. is playing in moving the Middle East towards democracy.
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