Egypt's Journalists Syndicate, political parties welcome invitation for national dialogue

Ahram Online , Wednesday 11 May 2022

Egypt's Journalists Syndicate and several political parties and movements welcomed the National Training Academy's (NTA) invitation to participate in the national political dialogue President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for last month.

Journalists Syndicate
Egyptian Journalists Syndicate headquarters in Cairo

During the annual Egyptian Family Iftar banquet on 26 April, El-Sisi assigned the National Youth Conference, which is organised by the NTA, to conduct a political dialogue on the current priorities of national action and to present its outcomes to him.

El-Sisi promised during the banquet to attend the final stages of the dialogue, which is set to include “all political parties without an exception or discrimination”.

This comes in line with the state’s efforts towards the “new republic,” El-Sisi added.

Many political forces have issued statements shortly after the NTA, tasked with managing the dialogue, has vowed neutrality, impartiality, and full societal representation in a statement on Tuesday.

The 6 April Youth Movement hailed El-Sisi’s call for national dialogue, saying it is waiting for a proposed roadmap for fruitful, sustainable dialogue.

“We want a future that excludes no one, where peace and acceptance of the other prevail, and in which the rift is healed and harm is removed,” the movement wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

The 6 April Youth Movement – a number of whose members are in jail – was founded in 2008 to support protesting textile workers in the Nile Delta's El-Mahalla El-Kubra, who were demanding higher wages and better work conditions. It soon developed into one of the leading opposition movements during the Mubarak era, and one of the main catalysts to give rise to dissent, which set the stage for a popular uprising a few years later in 2011.

The movement reiterated support for the recent release of political activists from prison, saying it looks forward to the release of more prisoners held in connection with “politically-based” lawsuits.

“We hope for… the continuation of positive decisions within the framework of the process of building confidence between the ruling authority and the Egyptian opposition forces of different classifications and orientations,” the movement added.

The NTA stated it will broaden the base of participation in the dialogue by inviting representatives from as many segments of Egyptian society and institutions as possible.

“Broadening the base of participation is an important step that ensures listening to all sectors in the ‘new republic,’ which accommodates everyone and listens to all opinions,” Civilian Humat Al-Watan Party said on Tuesday.

Liberal-oriented Wafd Party, the Conference Party, Free Egyptians Party, leftist National Progressive Unionist Party, National Social Reform and Renaissance Party of Islamic orientation, and many other parties announced accepting the invitation to the dialogue.

Journalists Syndicate, Pardon Committee

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate and the newly-reactivated Presidential Pardon Committee will also participate in the dialogue as per the NTA’s invitation.

El-Sisi reactivated the pardon committee, formed in 2016, during the Iftar banquet. On Tuesday, the committee announced that it will issue a list of tens of prisoners for presidential pardons soon.

Head of the Journalists Syndicate Diaa Rashwan hailed in a Tuesday statement the NTA’s remarks on broadening the base of participation in the national dialogue, commanding the step as a “timely revival of the coalition of the great 30 June [2013] Revolution powers.”

The coalition of powers will accordingly be able to “complete its goals of building a modern national state in line with the hopes and sacrifices of the Egyptian people,” Rashwan said.

He added that this should be done on the basis of constitutional and legal legitimacy, and in a way that opens prospects for coexistence and consensus among Egyptians.”

Rashwan expressed hope that the launch of the national dialogue will come with steps to complete the procedures of releasing prisoners “who do not have blood on their hands or are involved in terrorist crimes,” especially the syndicate members.

“This will tell that we are on the way to an actual big, real, serious, and new step and that… we are on the right path towards the ‘new republic’ that includes everyone,” Rashwan stated.

Late in April, the Egyptian Public Prosecution released three journalists a week after Rashwan had called for the release of journalists detained pretrial and after the prosecution had decided to release 41 pretrial activist detainees.

Meanwhile, a number of opposition parties in the Civil Democratic Movement issued a statement on Sunday announcing they will participate in the national dialogue on a number of conditions to ensure its seriousness.

The conditions include that the dialogue be held under the direct umbrella of the presidency; a parity in the number of representatives from the authorities and the opposition in the dialogue; and the inclusion of the issues of democratic political reforms, economic and social justice reforms, as well as human rights reforms in the process.

The Civil Democratic Movement includes the Nasserist El-Karama Party, Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Conservative Party, and the Constitution Party.

Participating in the dialogue

A registration form for those wishing to participate in the national dialogue is available on the National Youth Conference website.

The NTA said that its role will be limited to coordinating different segments in the dialogue in a neutral manner without intervening in the content to allow for a "serious and effective" national dialogue among all political forces.

The NTA said the dialogue between different political forces in Egypt will be an important step in determining the priorities of national action to help inaugurate a new republic that accepts everybody.

The academy said it will ensure the credibility and momentum of the dialogue that will open a new phase in Egyptian politics that moves past the "exceptional situation" of the recent past when the state faced threats and security risks.

The NTA said diversity will be taken into account when determining the locations of dialogue sessions to cover most of the regions in Egypt.

A joint impartial committee will also be formed from think tanks to compile the outcomes of the national dialogue in a preliminary unified document agreed upon by all participating political forces and groups.

The document will then be submitted to the president, as per his request.

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