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Ten liberal, leftist political parties boycott dialogue with president Morsi

Major political parties opt out of Wednesday's national dialogue called by Morsi; president calls for 'national harmony' to help investment; Aboul-Fotouh's party attends but says not constructive enough

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Oct 2012
Mohamed Morsi
File photo: President Mohamed Morsi (C) meets with Egyptian political leaders and activists at the presidential palace in Cairo shortly after inauguration in July, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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More than ten political forces boycotted a meeting with President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday. These included the Constitution Party, the Popular Current, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Nasserist Party, the Karama Party, the Free Egyptians, the Socialist Popular Alliance, Free Egypt and the Adl Party.

The latter parties boycotted the meeting to voice their objection to Egypt's proposed constitution and the Constituent Assembly that drafted it.

Before the meeting began, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told journalists that "all parties were invited to meet the president." He added that "65 politicians and activists were invited, representing all political trends," going on to explain that the gathering had aimed to kick off dialogue about the future of Egypt.

"We respect all parties that decided not to attend, but we think they are wasting a chance to participate in the dialogue," he added.

The meeting was attended by Ayman Nour, spokesman for the Conference Party and member of the Constituent Assembly; Mohamed El-Beltagi, prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party; and Essam Sultan, deputy head of the Wasat Party and Constituent Assembly member.

The meeting was also attended by presidential advisors Emad Abdel-Ghafour (head of the Salafist Nour Party), Ayman El-Sayad, Omaima Kamel, Pakinam El-Sharqawi and Farouk Gowida.

According to feedback from meeting attendees, Morsi stressed the need to foster harmony between different political currents, promote a positive atmosphere for investment, and combat corruption.

The Constituent Assembly, however, was the main point of discussion at the meeting, with attendees voicing concern about perceived Islamist monopolisation of the assembly's work.

"The threat of dissolving the assembly has vanished," Nour told the president at the meeting. "We're now left with the possibility that one wing will control the assembly, and therefore we need your intervention."

However, Nasserist Sameh Ashour said that finalising the constitution before the High Constitutional Court (HCC) rules on the Constituent Assembly was "wrong," insisting that the assembly should freeze its work until the HCC issues its verdict.

Leading Wasat Party member Abul Ela Madi, for his part, proposed the appointment of a "revolutionary government" as a way to resolve the ongoing political impasse.  

In response, Morsi promised to hold a second meeting with various political forces following the upcoming five-day Eid holiday that will begin on Thursday. 

However, not everyone who attended the meeting found it constructive.

The Strong Egypt Party, founded by former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, highlighted the importance of limiting the current political polarisation, but criticised the absence of "political forces with actual weight on the ground" at the meeting.

Abul-Fotouh's centrist party further criticised the meeting for including "remnants" of the ousted Mubarak regime. 

On Monday, Vice President Mahmoud Mekki held a seven-hour meeting with young representatives of political forces.

Meanwhile, Saad El-Katatni, who was recently elected FJP chairman (a post formerly held by Morsi), expressed his intention to unite with prominent political figures, including Abul-Fotouh, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Mohamed ElBaradei.

El-Katatni's invitation was received with scepticism by a number of political figures, some of whom boyctted Wednesday's meeting with the president.

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