Egypt reform campaign says nearing 1 mln backers

Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:54pm GMT

By Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - A campaign led by potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has gathered some 770,000 signatures to press for constitutional change in Egypt, its members say, adding impetus to demands for political reform.

The National Coalition for Change began online, has taken to the streets and tied up with Egypt's biggest opposition bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood, helping it achieve a five-fold increase in signatures in one month and nearing its goal of 1 million.

"The response on the street has been unexpected and unimaginable. People are genuinely looking forward to change," George Ishak, founder of the Kefaya (Enough) Movement and one of the coalition's leaders, told Reuters on Thursday.

The petition lists seven demands including allowing independents to run for president, judicial supervision of elections and lifting three-decade-old emergency laws that critics say are used to stifle dissent.

The petition is unlikely to challenge the dominance of President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party yet analysts say rapid success could spur the formation of a wider movement that draws more scrutiny of Egypt's political system.

Mubarak, head of state since 1981, has not said if he will seek another term but analysts expect he will try to hand power to his son Gamal. Both father and son have denied such plans.

Supporters of Gamal, whose cabinet allies have pushed through business-friendly reforms that ushered in five years of rapid economic growth, have launched their own rival petition calling for him to launch a presidential bid in 2011.

The NDP denies any affiliation with the Gamal campaign.   Continued...

<p>ElBaradei reacts during an interview with Reutes in Vienna's U.N. headquarters November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer</p>
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