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Former NDP members disturb opening National Dialogue session

The presence of former NDP members disrupted the first session, prompting some participants to leave

Sherif Tarek , Sunday 22 May 2011
Safwat Hegazi
Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazi
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The first session of the National Dialogue, named “the Session of the January 25 Youths,” ‎witnessed chaos as the presence of some former members of the ‎now-dismantled ‎National Democratic Party and old regime figures angered some participants and compelled them to leave.‎
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Some youths took the podium and called for the departure of the former ‎‎NDP members, chanting: “We do not want the [National Democratic] Party, even if we will be shot with ‎‎bullets for saying so.” The protest prompted a short break.‎

Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazi asked the NDP figures to leave in order for the session, ‎‎held at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre, to continue ‎‎without disturbance.‎

‎“The young men of the session, some of whom are from the January 25 Revolution Youth ‎‎Coalition, had some reservations about the conference,” said Hegazi. “They were ‎‎considering walking away because of the attendance of some NDP members.”‎

Order was restored somewhat but several political movements did depart from ‎the session, including the April 6 Youth Movement and the January 25 Revolution Youth ‎‎Coalition.‎

Ahmed Maher, founder and general coordinator of April 6 Youth Movement, told Ahram ‎Online: “We withdrew due to the lack of organization and because the same old methods were being applied in the National ‎Dialogue, which will get us nowhere.‎

‎“Most importantly, we were upset by the attendance of National Democratic Party figures ‎and other disciples of the former regime, such as [controversial lawyer] Mortada Mansour, ‎‎[veteran TV presenter] Mofid Fawzi and [Ghad Party president ] Mousa Mostafa Mousa [among others].” ‎

Khaled Tellema, member of the January 25 Revolution Youth ‎Coalition, said: “This is not the ‎right place for us. Our place is in Tahrir Square on Friday 27 May [when the second ‎revolution should begin].”‎

The National Dialogue is designed as a dialogue between a loose coalition of political groups and the interim government. It is conducted by former Prime Minister, Abdel ‎‎Aziz Hegazi. ‎

A number of pivotal political, economic and cultural issues are on the agenda in ‎‎the first three-day session, which was attended by interim ‎‎Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.‎

Sharaf kicked off the session by giving an “improvised” speech, stressing that he would not ‎‎interfere in the National Dialogue, but would support it and ensure the implementation ‎‎of its results. “The National Dialogue is based on three principles the revolution has always ‎called for: ‎freedom, democracy and social equality,” he said.‎

Hegazi also gave a speech, saying that all “suggested laws by the Supreme Council of the ‎‎Armed Forces should be discussed with the citizens before being enacted.” ‎

The National Dialogue was postponed after several groups, including Al-Wafd ‎‎party, refused to ‎participate, insisting that the demands of the ‎‎revolution first be fulfilled.‎

 

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