Egyptian opposition lawmakers boycotted an opening parliamentary debate Sunday on constitutional amendments they say will further tighten the president's grip on power.
Over 100 lawmakers from Egypt's largest Islamist opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other parties refused to attend the session of the 454-seat Parliament because they claim the amendments limit judicial monitoring of elections and ban the creation of political parties based on religion.
In December, President Hosni Mubarak asked the legislature to amend 34 articles in the constitution as part of a political reform package.
But the opposition, which represents some 25 percent of the parliamentary seats, says the changes are cosmetic and will pave the way for Mubarak's son, Gamal, to succeed him in the next presidential elections. On his part, Ali al-Din Hilal, spokesman for the ruling National Democratic Party, said, according to the DPA, "these concerns are groundless, because the special regulation (to the constitution) relates only to one specific crime - terrorism."