Mon, Nov 18, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Brotherhood calls for national talks

‘NO ACCEPTANCE, NO DIALOGUE’:The overture was the first made by supporters of the ousted president and did not demand his return, but the government was not receptive

AP, CAIRO

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry during a protest at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

A Muslim Brotherhood-led alliance said on Saturday it is ready for a national dialogue to end Egypt’s political standoff, for the first time not formally demanding the nation’s toppled Islamist president return to power.

However, the country’s military-backed government signaled no intention to start talks with supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Underscoring that, judges also suggested on Saturday that the government disband the Brotherhood’s political party.

The call by the alliance of Islamist groups is the first formal proposition by Morsi supporters, who have organized near-daily protests demanding his return to office since he was removed in a popularly supported military coup on July 3.

Mohammed Bishr, a leading member of the Brotherhood, told reporters the proposition calls for the release of detainees arrested after the ouster of Morsi. The coalition also asked for the end of security crackdown on Brotherhood members and its allies, as well as the reopening of television channels supporting them.

“We are keen on the country’s stability and to get out of the economic crunch,” Bishr said.

The coalition said its call is directed to other national political forces, as well as the military and the interim government it supports. The coalition offered a two-week period for them to discuss the proposal.

While the proposal offered on Saturday does not call for Morsi’s return to the presidency, it insists on basing a solution on “constitutional legitimacy.”

The group did not elaborate.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood and its political party said one way of restoring constitutional legitimacy is to reinstall Morsi briefly, so he can call for new elections or name a new prime minister. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists about the proposal.

It is unclear how the coalition proposal would fit into a military-backed plan already in place for returning Egypt to democracy. That plan calls for a referendum by the end of the year on changes to the Islamist-drafted constitution. That would be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections by summer.

Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said that Morsi supporters should accept the military-backed plan first as a starting point for talks.

“A call for dialogue has to be based on accepting the accomplishments [since Morsi’s ouster] and the current arrangements,” Eissa said. “With no acceptance, there is no dialogue.”

Meanwhile, a panel of judges told a court in Egypt it should disband the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and seize all its assets, state news agency MENA reported. A report by the panel said the party should be dissolved as another court order already banned the Brotherhood, the agency said.

The panel offered its opinion as guidance for the court, which is expected to rule on whether to disband the party in February next year.

MENA also reported that the panel offering amendments to the constitution should have a final draft of its recommendations ready by either tomorrow or Wednesday. Members of the Islamist coalition have criticized the work of the panel.

“The initial stance for the coalition is that we refuse whatever results a non-elected authority comes up with,” said Yousri Hamad, the vice president of the ultraconservative Salafi party.

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