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Time to Pursue Democracy in Egypt

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Egypt is in the early stages of a leadership succession that could swing the country toward greater openness and political competition or toward consolidated authoritarianism. President Mubarak has proposed extensive constitutional amendments that would shift some powers from the presidency to the legislative branch and revise rules for presidential and parliamentary elections, but observers are concerned that many of the changes may prove to be cosmetic. Crises in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon have hindered the United States from pursuing its stated goal of Middle East democracy promotion, yet these developments present a unique opportunity to urge meaningful reform in Egypt without endangering stability or key regional relationships.

In a new Carnegie Policy Outlook, Michele Dunne outlines the major implications of Egypt's current political climate and presents four key issues on which the U.S. should focus its attention: presidential term limits, greater freedom for political parties and movements, independent election oversight, and limiting executive branch powers under a new counter-terrorism law.