In March 1968, widespread demonstrations by students and workers broke out in Cairo, Alexandria, and the industrial town of Hulwan. The demonstrations were provoked by the decision of a military tribunal that convicted two air force commanders of negligence in the June 1967 War and acquitted two others. The demonstrators demanded stiffer sentences for the four officers. A sit-in by students at Cairo University ended only when the government promised to retry the officers and released arrested demonstrators.
Although the decision of the military tribunal was the immediate cause of the demonstrations, the underlying cause was popular frustration with the government repression over the preceding sixteen years and the lack of popular participation in the government. Nasser declared his desire to satisfy popular demands and promised to present a plan of action. The new plan, approved by a referendum in May, called for a new constitution that would reform the ASU, grant parliament control over the government, and allow greater personal and press freedom. Popular elections were to be held for the National Assembly.