Egypt's Brotherhood alliance calls for national dialogue, for a limited time

Ahram Online, Saturday 16 Nov 2013

A statement on Saturday released by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy reflects a shift in the coalitions rhetoric, calling for national dialogue and political plurality

Mohamed Ali Bishr (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition, has called for a national dialogue as a way out of the country's political strife, without explicitly demanding the return of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

The alliance said in a statement on Saturday, which is titled "A Strategic Viewpoint", that Egypt needs a "serious discussion." This cannot happen, the alliance stated, however, until "the arrests, bloodshed, and hate speech" ends.

The Brotherhood-backed alliance also called for respect for "political plurality."  

Mohamed Ali Bishr, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the alliance, said in a press conference on Saturday that the call for national dialogue is open to everyone, even those who took part in the 30 June protests that ousted Morsi, reported the Freedom and Justice Party online website.

However, Bishr, a leading figure in the on-and-off Islamists' attempts to negotiate a political settlement with the interim government, said that the proposed dialogue is limited to a period of two weeks to expedite political groups' participation.  

This statement marks a  shift in the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy's policy platform, as it was the first time since the coalition's establishment four months ago that they did not demand Morsi's reinstatement as president. It also did not call for the return of the Shura Council that was dissolved following Morsi's ouster.

In addition, the alliance did not insist on bringing back the 2012 constitution, currently undergoing amendments by a 50-member committee appointed by the interim government. The alliance said that it agrees amendments could be applied to controversial articles to reach a "larger consensus."

However, the alliance maintained its original contention that Morsi's ouster was an illegitimate "military coup" and demanded what it described as an "end" to the resulting government. 

The statement also called for respecting "the will of the Egyptian people through ballot boxes, and respecting the right to peaceful protest."

Egypt's interim authorities have launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi was deposed by the army on 3 July amid mass protests against him. In September, a court banned all Brotherhood institutions.

Hundreds of Brotherhood members have since been arrested in recurring protests, clashes and attacks against the interim leadership, mainly on charges of inciting violence. Major Brotherhood figures, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, face trial on similar charges. 

Morsi himself is currently facing trial with 14 other Brotherhood members on charges of killing of protesters at the Ittihadeya Presidential Palace clashes in December 2012. 

Since his removal from power on 3 July, Morsi has continued to state that he is the country's legitimate president, refusing to recognise the court in the first session of his trial on 4 November.

The deposed president, who is in custody at Tora prison, issued a statement on 11 November saying that Egypt will not regain its stability until the "coup is overturned and those responsible for the bloodshed are held accountable."

Almost a thousand people were killed in a nationwide wave of violence triggered by a deadly police dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead on 14 August.  Tens of Police stations and churches were attacked around the country, leaving dozen sdead. 

All previous mediation attempts between the government and the Brotherhood since 3 July, including initiatives by the European Union and the United States, have failed.


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