Egypt's National Dialogue will not discuss amending constitution: Rashwan, Moussa and Badrawi

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 3 May 2023

'All participants in the National Dialogue agreed that the dialogue agenda will not include three issues: amending the constitution, Egypt's foreign policy, and national security," explained Diaa Rashwan, general coordinator of the National Dialogue.

Egypt s national dialogue
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly attending the inaugural session of Egypt's National Dialugue among other participants on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the official Facebook page of the National Dialogue)

"We fully support Egypt's current foreign policies and the armed forces' role in preserving national security," said Rashwan.

Speaking before the opening session of the National Dialogue, Rashwan pointed out that "none of those who accepted President El-Sisi's invitation to the National Dialogue said that Egypt's 2014 constitution should be amended." 

"In general, no preconditions were set. The political forces just asked for guarantees that the dialogue's recommendations will be implemented," he added.

Rashwan indicated that "as a result, two groups will not be allowed to participate in the national dialogue: those who reject Egypt's 2014 constitution and those who resort to violence to impose their agendas, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood group."

"Otherwise, we do not have any red lines as we believe that the participants, who represent all segments of Egyptian society, are keen on reaching a consensus on what best serves the nation and its citizens," he said.

Rashwan also noted that "the national dialogue should not be used as an alternative for the Egyptian state's institutions."

"This dialogue is the voice of the people, while the government is an authority subject to supervision by constitutional institutions," he said, adding that "the national dialogue will be used as a medium to put forward the people's demands before the concerned authorities and the president."

For his part, Hossam Badrawi, the National Dialogue's consultant, also indicated that "the national dialogue will be based on Egypt's 2014 constitution and 2030 vision."

"The current national dialogue firmly believes in the current constitution, and any recommendations it comes up with at the end should accord with this constitution," said Badrawi, adding that " the dialogue is harmonious with the spirit of the constitution that calls for turning Egypt into a civilian democratic state and guarantees and protects citizens' freedom of speech and private lives."

He argued that "the presidential system prescribed by the 2014 constitution is the best one for Egypt at present."

"This system gives the president a lot of power, which is not bad, but we should make sure that this system does not lead to the creation of an autocracy," said Badrawi, adding that "one of the guarantees against such a scenario is that the president should not remain in power after 12 years to open the door for a peaceful rotation of power."

He also contended that "the parliamentary system does not suit countries with high poverty and illiteracy rates such as Egypt."

"Extremist religious groups can use this system to manipulate the elections," said Badrawi. 

He noted that Egypt requires a strong leader who will not turn the country into a dictatorship, thus paving the way for a peaceful rotation of power.

Badrawi stated that under the presidential system, the role of the armed forces and security forces should be confined to preserving national security.

They should not interfere with the civilian and democratic nature of the state, he added.

For his part, Amr Moussa, who chaired the 50-member committee which drafted the 2014 constitution, said that the current constitution includes several positive points that we should capitalize on, such as the separation of religion from politics to pave the way for civilian rule.

Moussa noted that President El-Sisi respected the constitution by calling for reforming religious discourse and forbidding religion from being exploited for political reasons.

He said that the National Dialogue's final recommendations should be presented first to parliament to be discussed.

 "These recommendations should not be sent to the president first," noted Moussa, adding that "they should be set first before the parliament  even if the president takes note of them."

"The parliament should then discuss these recommendations and pass them on to the government to convert them to laws and legislations and then return them to the parliament," he explained.

Hamdeen Sabahi, Egypt's well-known leftist opposition leader and former presidential candidate, apologized for not attending the opening session of the dialogue because of the sudden death of his sister.

The general coordinator delivered a speech on his behalf.


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