Egypt talks agree constitution reform team

MENA and Ahram Online, Sunday 6 Feb 2011

Talks on Sunday between Vice President Omar Suleiman and opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, lay the path for a constitutional reform committee while Suleiman refuses to assume Mubarak's presidential powers

Vice President Omar Suleiman held talks on Sunday with Egyptian opposition groups including the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, Wafd Party, Tagammu Party, in addition to important opposition figures and intellectualls, to try and find a way out of the country's worst crisis in decades.

Participants in the talks agreed on the formation of a constitutional reform committee by the beginning of March, a government official said.

Government spokesman Magdi Radi said they agreed on "the formation of a committee, which will include the judiciary and a number of political figures, to study and propose constitutional amendments and required legislative amendments ... before the first week of March."

The participants declared their respect to the 25 January movement and the necessity to face the challenges ahead by respecting the constitution and the law.

They also agreed on ending the emergency law, but no specific date was given. The participants refused foreign intervention in Egyptian affairs.

A national committee will also be formed to ascertain that all the promises will be implemented.

The participants in the talks include influential members of the Brotherhood, such as Saad el-Katateny and Mohamed Morsi.

Opposition party figures included chairman of the liberal Wafd Party Sayed El-Badawi, Wafd Secretary General Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, a representative of Mohamed ElBaradie, Chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party Rifaat El-Saeed, Chairman of the Geel Party Nagi El-Shahabi, newly appointed Secertary General of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Hossam Badrawi and Chairman of the Union Party Osama Shaltoot.

Prominent figures from other fields include legal expert Yehia el-Gamal, business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, chairman of the press syndicate Makram Mohamed Ahmed, former information minster Mansour Hassan, and former MPs Mostafa Bakry and Mohamed Ragab.

The opposition in general demanded an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule.

Many of its members, including the Brotherhood, had said they would not meet any government representatives before he stepped down. He has refused to do so.

Suleiman last week urged the Brotherhood to join the dialogue, calling it a "valuable opportunity" for the group. It was his first publicly announced meeting with Brotherhood members since being appointed as vice president last week.

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