The Egyptian government and opposition groups agreed on Sunday to set up a committee to study constitutional reforms in a meeting not recognised by the youth protest movement that wants the president to step down.
Leading members of the opposition said talks with Vice President Omar Suleiman were positive but fell well short of producing an agreement on demands for broad political reform.
A leading organiser of the protests that have shaken Mubarak's rule over the last 13 days said the talks had evaded "the demands of the people".
"We refuse in principle to either have a dialogue or negotiate before Mubarak leaves. We are open to discuss the future but only after Mubarak leaves," said Mohamed Adel, whose Sixth of April youth group was not represented in the meeting.
The opposition groups and independents that met Suleiman included the Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose attendance showed the changes that have swept Egypt in the last two weeks.
The statement, circulated by the Egyptian government, gave no suggestion that Mubarak would step down and repeated ideas for reform he outlined in his Feb. 1 speech.
Mubarak has said he will not step down until the end of his term in September. Senior Brotherhood Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh reiterated opposition demands for amendments to constitutional clauses that impose tight restrictions on who can run for the presidency.
"We need President Mubarak to issue presidential decrees to change Articles 76, 77, dissolve the parliament, release all political detainees the government knows very well, end emergency status," he said.
"Until then, the youth will remain on the streets and at the same time, discussions will continue."
Govt to release political prisoners
According to the statement, the government would move to release jailed activists and take steps to guarantee freedom of the press.
It also said Egypt's emergency laws would be lifted "according to the security conditions" -- a clause giving the government wide room for interpretation. Opposition groups say the emergency laws have been used to stifle political dissent.
"The meeting was positive in general but it is only the beginning. We appreciated Omar Suleiman meeting with us independently after a general meeting with all political forces," Mustafa Naggar, coordinator for Mohamed ElBaradei's National Association for Change, said after the talks.
"We demanded a full democratic transformation and not partial reforms. But Suleiman responded: 'Democracy comes in stages and I am keen that there is a peaceful transitional period and civilian rule'," he added.
Many of the opposition parties, including the Brotherhood, had said they would not meet any government representatives before Mubarak left power. The Brotherhood said on Saturday it had the right to abandon talks if they were not going anywhere.
On Saturday, Suleiman met prominent independent and mainstream opposition figures to go through possible options for a transition of power.
Publicly at least, Suleiman, intelligence chief until Mubarak appointed him his deputy last month, appears to be taking the leading role in charting Egypt's future.
Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2011, 18:15