Egyptian anti-government protesters march in Assiut, Egypt. (Feb. 11, 2011)

Egyptian anti-government protesters march in Assiut, Egypt. (Feb. 11, 2011) Credit: AP

ASSIUT, Egypt — Villagers in southern Egypt blocked a highway with burning tires and set fire to three government buildings Sunday to protest official corruption, witnesses said.

Also in Assiut province, hundreds of civil servants went on strike for better living conditions, saying senior officials are distributing social benefits unfairly.

Anger over widespread corruption helped drive the uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this month.

On Saturday, a constitutional reform panel appointed by Egypt’s military rulers, who took over from Mubarak, recommended far-reaching constitutional reforms. The changes would open Egypt’s presidential elections to competition and impose a two-term limit on future presidents — a dramatic shift from a system that allowed Mubarak to rule for three decades.

The changes are among 10 proposed constitutional amendments that are to be put to a popular referendum later this year. The proposals appeared to address many of the demands of the reform movement that helped lead the uprising.

But some Egyptians worry that the proposed changes don’t go far enough to ensure a transition to democratic rule, and could allow the entrenched old guard to maintain its grip on power.

In Sunday’s unrest, protesters blocked the Assiut-Cairo highway for five hours with burning tires to protest lack of government control over bakeries. The demonstrators accused owners of local bakeries of selling subsidized flour on the black market

In another village in the area, protesters set fire to three local government buildings demanding investigation into government corruption. Also Sunday, more than 2,000 employees of the Assiut provincial government went on strike. Protesters in the area also set a former ruling party building on fire.

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