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Electoral Reform In Egypt

Egyptians will go to the polls in September. In the past, the parliament selected a single presidential candidate who was then approved or rejected by the voters. In February, President Hosni Mubarak proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the first multi-candidate presidential election. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist, says that the presidential election "may well be a giant step for democracy in Egypt and the Arab world."

Among the expected presidential candidates is Ayman Nour, leader of the pro-democracy Party of Tomorrow. Mr. Nour was arrested in January on charges that he falsified petitions that resulted in his party's legalization.

But some independent Egyptian lawyers say the charges against him are groundless. Mr. Nour spent forty-two days in prison before being released on bail. Mr. Nour says that while Egyptians appreciate President Mubarak, Egyptians "love this nation as well and would like it to develop like other countries."

President George W. Bush says that the United States and its allies are urging Egypt and other Arab countries to open up their political systems:

"While our expectations must be realistic, our ideals must be firm and they must be clear. We must expect higher standards from our friends and partners in the Middle East."

President Bush says, "The great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."

The preceeding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.