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NSF, Salafist Nour and Strong Egypt to find exit for national crisis

A meeting within days of three major political groupings will attempt to chart a path out of Egypt's national crisis that group sources say is underestimated by the ruling regime

Dina Ezzat, Saturday 16 Feb 2013
Nour and Strong Egypt to find exit for national crisis
(L) to (R) : Abdel Moneim Abu El-Fotouh of Strong Egypt Party , Hamdeen Sabbahi of the Popular Current and Nour salafist party spokesman Nader Bakkar (Photo: Ahram Online)
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Opposition sources have told Ahram Online that preparations are underway for a meeting that should take place this week — within two days according to two sources — to bring together the leadership of Strong Egypt Party, the National Salvation Front (NSF) and the Salafist El-Nour Party.

The meeting, essentially proposed by the Strong Egypt Party, aims to find a political and economic exit out of the current impasse facing the country. Sources from the three opposition parties/groups say there is a general sense of unease about the assessment of the president and the majority Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, about the depth and breadth of the economic crisis and the many layers of attendant political woes.

"The Brotherhood are convinced that they are faced with no serious opposition and that the anger of the crowds that take to the streets is only a function of conspiracies that we orchestrate against them," said a source at the NSF. She added: "This is very disturbing, because if they cannot see the problem then it is very hard to expect them to resolve it."

A source from El-Nour Party argued that the worst part of the problem is "the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood insist that they can handle the economic problem without resorting to serious economic experts."

For his part, a source at the Strong Egypt Party said "The fact of the matter is that the presidency is convinced that things will work themselves out if the opposition leadership stops what the Brotherhood qualifies as 'instigation.' This is not true; there is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed."

The NSF, El-Nour and Strong Egypt meeting would draft a comprehensive plan to end the political and economic impasse. The first step of this plan is to introduce a new government that would be headed with an independent and reputable economist who would select his own economic team upon strict professional merit, but in consultation with the FJP. The rest of the government would be nominated by the FJP, El-Nour, the NSF and Strong Egypt Party proportionately.

The list of nominees to head the government, according to sources, include Mohamed El-Erian, a reputable Egyptian-American economist who is said to have declined an offer that had recently been made to him to head the government, Farouk El-Oqda, the recently retired governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Hazem Beblawi, a former minister of finance during the transitional phase and an economist, and economist Ziyad Bahaeddine who had headed the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

In addition to assigning a team of economic technocrats and a national unity government, the roadmap to be proposed by the key three political groupings would include replacing the prosecutor-general appointed amid controversy by the president with another to be assigned by the Supreme Council of Judges.

Other items on the agenda of the proposed meeting include the assignment of a trusted and diverse committee of constitutional experts to examine ways to address opposition reservations to the newly ratified constitution.

Meanwhile, sources from El-Nour Party said that they are still consulting with the president over an initiative tabled earlier to contain the crisis but that was not given enough attention from the president and the FJP.

President Mohamed Morsi is said by opposition and presidential sources alike to not be in favour of sacking Prime Minister Hesham Qandil whose performances has occasioned much criticism. The president would rather, the same sources say, reshuffle the government to allow for the introduction of some El-Nour Party members and a few liberal faces that have shown willingness to accommodate Qandil and the presidency through rounds of national dialogue sessions shrugged off by the NSF and to a large extent by the Strong Egypt Party.

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