The release of prisoners of conscience to top Egypt's 'National Dialogue' agenda

Habiba Hamdy , Sunday 30 Apr 2023

The steps of frank, transparent national dialogue in Egypt start with definitively resolving the prisoners of conscience file, said participants of the Egyptian 'National Dialogue' during their meeting with General Coordinator of the dialogue Diaa Rashwan on Saturday, according to a statement.

Prominent media and political figures meet on Saturday ahead of the start of the National Dialogue on Wednesday.


“We are all hopeful of starting a new phase in the life of this country,” the participants said in the statement, emphasising that they will partake in fostering an “open political climate which establishes economic reform to support both the citizen and the state’s economy.”

The statement was issued by Rashwan following the meeting that involved a set of prominent figures in the political and media fields in Egypt, where they discussed the course of the 'National Dialogue' set to commence on Wednesday, 3 May.

It is important to cease procedures that chase and imprison prisoners of conscience, the meeting attendees further stressed.

They also shared their vision for the 'National Dialogue' and the current situation in Egypt in general, Rashwan said.

We seek a free dialogue between parties on an equal footing to unlock the path to an open public sphere, they continued, adding that this will allow Egypt to benefit from the minds and cadres of its citizens.

We believe that the state should listen carefully to the people's requests, they further asserted.

The meeting participants also asserted the necessity of adopting a “political path which includes all legitimate political parties and movements,” adding that such activities must be protected by laws that allow practitioners to do so without “restriction or circumvention.”

 The law on political parties must be reformed to serve the nation’s interests, they affirmed, adding that freedom of the press, as well as opinion, go hand in hand with such reformations.  

We wish to turn our attention to the current economic situation of the country with the rising cost of living and we are confident that political reform, strengthening state institutions, mutual surveillance, and balance of powers is the only way to re-establish the country, the statement continued.

Hence, the state should strive to achieve its aspirations through the participation of all its people and provide the necessary mechanisms for that to fulfil the ownership of the country to its citizens, they added.

 There is no alternative to dialogue to handle any political dispute, the statement asserted, adding that the 'National Dialogue' can pave the way to a political climate that holds presidential, parliamentary, and administrative elections up to international standards.

We hope that we will reach the day when we hand over the flag of the homeland to our children, reassured that it is a strong, precious, and stable country, they concluded.

The 'National Dialogue' was originally proposed by President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in April 2022 to develop the country's future political, economic, and social priorities.

Rashwan also announced on Wednesday that the current crisis in Sudan propelled by the attacks of the paramilitary Rapid Sudanese Forces groups further raised the urgency of Egypt's 'National Dialogue' emphasising that the initiative must begin on 3 May as planned.

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