Condoleezza Rice etterlyste større innsats for reformer i Egypt og spurte om de nye grunnlovsendringene gir folk større innflytelse. Mubarak likte kritikken dårlig.
Nasjonalforsamlingen strødde sand på 34 grunnlovsendringer sist mandag. Ett av dem forbyr politiske partier å bli dominert av en religiøs retning. Det muslimske brorskap tar dette som en klar utfordring.
On route to Egypt, where she held talks Saturday with Arab foreign ministers on the Israeli-Arab peace process, Rice expressed concern about the proposed amendments, saying «the hope was that this would be a process that gave voice to all Egyptians.»
«I think there’s some danger that that hope is not going to be met,» she said late Friday. «Right now I am concerned that it won’t.»
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit quickly denounced the comments, saying, «It is unimaginable that someone would speak about and judge an Egyptian internal political process before it even starts.»
One proposed amendment would ban parties founded on religious denomination, a move apparently aimed at preventing the powerful Muslim Brotherhood — which is banned but participates in elections through candidates running as independents — from becoming a legitimate political actor.
Another calls for the creation of an electoral commission, which opponents doubt will be independent and say will diminish the role of judges in monitoring elections. In 2005, some judges blew the whistle on vote fraud, and the opponents fear sidelining them will free the government to more easily fix voting.
A third controversial amendment gives the president strong security powers against terrorism that critics fear will be abused and used against political opponents.