Egypt's national dialogue debates to be made public in transparent, democratic way: Secretary-General Fawzi

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 7 Jul 2022

Mahmoud Fawzi, secretary-general of Egypt's national dialogue, said that the decision to air the debates live is up to the Board of Trustees which is responsible for running the debates, but they "will, in any way, be made public in a transparent and democratic way."

 national dialogue
Secretary-general of Egypt's National Dialogue Mahmoud Fazwi (photo courtesy of the official Facebook page of the Egyptian National Dialogue)


In an interview with Extra News TV channel on Wednesday night, Fawzi added that the board's first meeting, which was held on Tuesday night, finalised the drafts of a 19-article internal bylaw and 25-clause code of conduct.

"Both the internal bylaw and code of conduct took intensive debates in a four-hour meeting on Tuesday night, after which the final versions gained a kind of consensus, which reflected the objective spirit of the Board of Trustees," said Fawzi, explaining that "the bylaw will indicate whether the dialogue sessions will all be aired live or some parts will be broadcast live and others kept confidential."

"But in any way, the dialogue's debates will be made public in a transparent and democratic way," said Fawzi.

He noted that the final decision about the dialogue's internal bylaw will be taken when the Board of Trustees hold its next meeting on 19 July. 

"Right now, we have the main 19-article bylaw and another one drafted by Ahmed El-Sharkawy, a parliamentary member affiliated with the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. Both drafts will be discussed again in the 19 July meeting," said Fawzi.

He stressed that "at the end, there is consensus that a number of rules should regulate the national dialogue's debates, on top of which is that participants can't use low-quality language, show nervousness, or resort to badmouthing and that all should be keen to show the highest level of civilised behaviour and conduct."

Fawzi also indicated that "all the national dialogue's debates will be audio-visually recorded, archived, and documented in a book for the coming generations.

"This will be a part of Egypt's history and memory, and it is the right of the coming generations to know about the issues we face," said Fawzi.

"The board's first meeting on Tuesday saw intensive debates over whether there should be a time limit for the anticipated dialogue. Some members – such as Al-Ahram strategist Amr Hashem Rabie – wants a maximum two-month ceiling, while others proposed that the dialogue be held over stages, with recommendations to be declared at the end of each stage," said Fawzi.

He added that the Board of Trustees and internal bylaw are yet to decide whether the dialogue will be held in Cairo or in other governorates as well.

According to Fawzi, members of the national dialogue's secretariat-general are part of the National Training Academy's staff.

"Most of them are young people who are highly qualified, bilingual, and with efficient communication skills," said Fawzi, pointing out that "two bodies will be in charge of running the debates -- the Board of Trustees and secretariat-general. Other bodies may be created later on.

In later debates, Fawzi said, "some participants might demand amending a certain law or certain articles of a law, in which case the secretariat-general will have to see how the law is tackled in the constitution and how it can be amended before drafting a report on these points to be submitted to the Board of Trustees."

"In economic subjects, some participants may submit proposals that require feedback from experts to decide whether their proposals are feasible and cost-effective. It will be also necessary for the technical secretariat to contact certain economic institutions to seek advice and clarifications on the proposals," said Fawzi. 

"By the end of debates over every proposal, the secretariat will issue a brief detailing all the viewpoints which support or stand against this proposal and whether it is in line with the constitution."

Fawzi said, "the Board of Trustees tasked the secretariat-general with setting up a website to provide details on the debates, discussions, and statements issued by the board. The secretariat-general, in coordination with the Board of Trustees, will be also in charge of drafting the national dialogue's final recommendations," said Fawzi.

He noted that the minutes of every session will be recorded. 

"When we submit the dialogue's final recommendations to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, we will also deliver a report detailing why each recommendation was proposed and whether it gained consensus," he added.

According to Fawzi, President El-Sisi's call in April for a national dialogue to discuss Egypt's political and economic policies in the coming stage received overwhelming positive response from the people.

"We received more than 100,000 proposals and suggestions from ordinary citizens, political parties, public figures, and institutions from Egypt's 27 governorates without exception," said Fawzi, arguing that "this widescale reaction demonstrates how El-Sisi's call has struck a chord with all Egyptians and that there is a public, private, and institutional wish for a national dialogue on the country's course of action and policies in the coming stage."

"It seems that political issues come on top of the submitted proposals, followed by economic issues. The majority of groups want to find solutions and the people want their voices heard," said Fawzi, adding that "the best thing about the dialogue is that it will give Egyptians wide room to listen to the views of each other in a democratic and objective fashion."

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