CAIRO — Egypt's new military rulers said Sunday that they would dissolve parliament, suspend the constitution and hold elections for a civilian government in September, quickening the pace of reforms demanded by the protesters who ousted Hosni Mubarak from the presidency two days ago.
The announcement on state television figured to allay fears among protesters about open-ended rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power in a caretaker role upon Mubarak's resignation.
Among protesters' key demands was suspending and rewriting Mubarak's authoritarian constitution, which currently sets no presidential term limits, restricts political candidacy almost exclusively to his National Democratic Party and leaves little room for judicial oversight in elections.
The military said that Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, appointed by Mubarak during his final days in office, would remain in his role until presidential and parliamentary elections.
Earlier Sunday, Shafiq, in his first public remarks since Mubarak's resignation, said that security in Egypt was improving and urged the protesters to end their demonstrations and return to their jobs "to help us build the country's economy."
A day earlier, the army had said that it would pave the way to democratic elections without offering a timetable. The military would "guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected civilian power to govern the country," according to Saturday's statement.The military also said it would uphold Egypt's international treaties, an apparent nod to the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace accord, a focal point of concern for Israel, the United States and other Western powers following the stunning change of regime in their staunchest Arab ally.
The army, Egypt's most respected public institution, won praise from many Egyptians, as well as the Obama administration, for remaining generally neutral during the nearly three weeks of anti-Mubarak protests. But it's led by figures with close ties to the ousted regime, including Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi, and has been accused by human rights groups of arbitrarily detaining and abusing demonstrators and their supporters.