CAIRO, Egypt Feb 26, 2005 — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered a revision of the country’s election laws Saturday and said multiple candidates could run in the nation’s presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak has not faced since taking power in 1981.
The surprise announcement, a response to critics’ calls for political reform, comes shortly after historic elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, balloting that brought a taste of democracy to the region. It also comes amid a sharp dispute with the United States over Egypt’s arrest of one of the strongest proponents of multi-candidate elections.
Opposition figures and reform advocates welcomed Mubarak’s announcement, but some feared it may only be a superficial change to appease pressure at home and abroad. The step came as a dispute sharpened with the United States over Egypt’s arrest of one of the strongest proponents of multi-candidate elections.