Egypt's NSF indefinitely postpones its dialogue initiative

Ahram Online , Tuesday 26 Mar 2013

Strong Egypt Party and Nour Party dropped out of the proposed roundtable, Nour Party citing concerns about NSF involvement in recent clashes

Egyptian reform leader Mohammed El Baradei, center, speaks during a press conference following the meeting of the National Salvation Front, as former Egyptian presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, left, and former Egyptian Foreign Minister and presidential candidate, Amr Moussa, right, listen in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egypt's largest opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF), has indefinitely adjourned the first meeting of a planned series of roundtable discussions that were due to kick off on Monday, March 25, after two parties announced they would not take part.

"The current situation in the country – including the latest spate of violence, subsequent reactions, as well as the ongoing protests by Islamists at Media Production City, do not allow a dialogue at the moment," Ahmed Fawzi, secretary general of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) and leading member in the NSF, told Ahram Online.

"Only President Morsi, or rather the Muslim Brotherhood, can resolve the state of turmoil the country has been witnessing amid the already existing civil war and political infighting," he added.

The move was prompted by the current political malaise in the country and was geared towards establishing a framework for constitutional amendments and reaching a consensus over appointing a new prosecutor-general – two major demands of Egypt's opposition.

The invitation was extended to four parties, including the Strong Egypt Party, the Nour Party, Misr Party and the Reform and Development Party (RDP).
Both the Nour Party and the Strong Egypt Party confirmed earlier they would not engage in the dialogue.

Younis Makhyoun, Nour Party chairman, confirmed on Sunday that his party would not take part in the talks, saying he doubted the efficacy of the move in view of the limited number of participating parties.

The latest violence in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in the suburb of Moqattam appears to have changed the party's readiness to negotiate with Egypt's largest opposition bloc.

About 200 people were injured when anti-Brotherhood protesters clashed with members of the group at the Brotherhood's headquarters and stormed several of its offices nationwide.

"What has made the situation more complex is the involvement of the front's members in the latest violence, whether by calling for protests before the Brotherhood headquarters, inciting violence or by actual participation," Makhioun said in a statement issued on Sunday.

He urged the front to make a public stand against those who took part in the violence.

Also on Monday, the Strong Egypt Party– led by former Muslim Brotherhood member and ex-presidential hopeful Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh –asked the NSF to modify the vision for the dialogue and the issues it would tackle.

"The front has not replied to reservations that we wanted to discuss before embarking on the dialogue, so we decided not take part," said Mohamed Othman of the Strong Egypt Party.

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