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Egypt opposition forces to attend Morsi's National Dialogue talks

Eight National Salvation Front members will participate in seventh dialogue meeting after boycotting, says former vice president Mekki; parliamentary elections law top of the agenda

Ahram Online, Wednesday 2 Jan 2013
Mohamed Morsi
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (C) attends a meeting with Egypt's Vice President Mahmoud Mekky (4th L) with other politicians and heads of parties at the presidential palace in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
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Former Egyptian vice president Mahmoud Mekki announced that opposition coalition National Salvation Front (NSF) will participate in the next round of National Dialogue talks on 9 January, in a news conference Tuesday.

The series of dialogue meetings were launched by President Mohamed Morsi last month during the deepening political crisis but were widely boycotted by the opposition. So far only Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist Calling and the Wasat Party together with the liberal group Ghad Al-Thawra have attended.

Mekki confirmed that eight NSF members will take part in the seventh National Dialogue conference, however the names of those participating have yet to be officially announced.

In the Tuesday press gathering organised by the National Dialogue, Mekki said that their last meeting was the most difficult as it tackled Egypt's parliamentary elections law.

Morsi's former deputy said that those that refused to participate in the National Dialogue talks had, instead, sent in their suggestions to be considered in the meeting. There was little difference between their viewpoints, he added.

According to Mekki, all political groups should adhere to the "rules of the elections", he called next week's dialogue meeting a chance for all forces to express their views equally.

Former presidential contender and head of the National Dialogue's legal committee Mohamed Selim El-Awa said that the current draft elections legislation had been sent to President Mohamed Morsi, who endorsed it.

According to El-Awa, Morsi passed the law to the justice ministry, after which it will be sent to the cabinet before going to the Shura Council (upper house of Egyptian parliament) to be ratified.

Morsi chose not to directly issue the law despite having legislative authorities, El-Awa continued, as the president wanted to allow Egypt's different political factions the opportunity to discuss the details.

Some parties within the NSF have already criticised the parliamentary elections legislation.

The Conference Party, led by former presidential candidate Amr Moussa, said in a statement released Wednesday that the law ignored the NSF's demand to "criminalise rather than prohibit" using houses of worship for elections campaigns.

Moussa's statement also said that the law is too similar to the previous elections legislation and does not reduce the size of constituents, as the NSF demanded.

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