Egypt's military rulers, hoping to set the stage for transparent democratic elections in six months, have unveiled a raft of proposed constitutional changes that include U.S.-style presidential presidential term limits.
Meanwhile, Amr Moussa, the chief of the Arab League and an often-scathing critic of Israel, said Sunday that he would run for president.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which after taking over from Hosni Mubarak vowed to pave the way for a free democratic system, has set up a panel to oversee constitutional amendments and pledged free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections after a transitional period.
The changes come amid growing tensions between the military and protesters who ousted Mubarak from power earlier this month. Hours before the proposed amendments were announced, protesters and army personnel clashed near Tahrir Square, the site of this month's successful revolt.
Moussa, widely popular in Egypt, would be a leading candidate to replace Mubarak, ousted Feb. 11 after 30 years in power.
The charismatic former foreign minister was one of the first Arab public figures to side with Tunisian protesters in December.
“I intend to run in the next presidential election, and an [official] announcement will be made at the right time,” MENA quoted him as saying, adding that a new Egyptian figure would be picked “very soon” to head the 22-member pan-Arab organization.
If adopted in a national referendum in about two months, the proposed constitutional changes would open Egypt's presidential elections to competition by loosening restrictions on candidacy, and impose a two-term limit on presidents, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The proposed changes would overturn a Mubarak-era law that effectively allowed his ruling National Democratic Party to oversee elections, restoring full supervision of the vote to the country's independent judiciary.
The changes also seek to forbid trials of civilians in military courts.
The amendments will be put to a referendum in about two months, according to members of an eight-man legal panel appointed by the military to draft the new rules.
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain met Sunday with Moussa during a visit to Cairo and said that the Egyptian revolt showed change in the region was possible without extremism.
"This revolution is a repudiation of Al Qaeda," said McCain, an Arizona Republican, according to Agence France-Presse.
"This revolution has shown the people of the world, not just in the Arab world, that peaceful change can come about and violence and extremism is not required in order to achieve democracy and freedom."
McCain and Connecticut Independent senator Joe Lieberman are the first members of the U.S. congress to visit Egypt after Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising.
Before the revolution, it was thought "there were only two choices: on the one hand a secular dictatorship, on the other hand a fear of a religious extremist dictatorship," Lieberman said.
"There is a third way that Egypt has shown the world and that is a peaceful democratic future that is inclusive of the widest range of people," he said.