Egypt's Brotherhood may quit govt talks

Brotherhood will reconsider continuing govt talks if opposition calls for Mubarak to go and other demands were not met.

Egypt's Brotherhood may quit govt talks

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood will reconsider continuing talks with the government if opposition calls for President Hosni Mubarak to go and other demands were not met, a senior group member said on Monday.

The opposition has been calling for the constitution to be rewritten to allow free and fair presidential elections, a limit on presidential terms, the dissolution of parliament, the release of political detainees and lifting of emergency law.

"We are assessing the situation. We are going to reconsider the whole question of dialogue," the Brotherhood's Essam el-Erian told Reuters.

"We will reconsider according to the results. Some of our demands have been met but there has been no response to our principal demands that Mubarak leave," he said.

The government statement suggested reforms would be implemented with Mubarak staying in power until September, rather than leaving now.

It also put conditions on lifting emergency law, which the opposition says has been used to stifle dissent and should end immediately.

"US sees progress"

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday talks to resolve Egypt's crisis were making progress.

Obama's comments seemed to contradict those by Egyptian opposition figures who reported little progress in talks over demands including the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Obviously, Egypt has to negotiate a path and they're making progress," Obama told reporters in Washington.

Obama suggested on Sunday the Brotherhood "lacks" majority support.

On Monday the White House expressed concern about the group's "anti-American rhetoric", but stopped short of saying it would be against the group taking a role in a future government.

"We have significant disagreements (with the Brotherhood)," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

The U.S. approach to the unrest has come at a cost, putting the Obama administration out of step with the protesters who say Mubarak must quit now for serious political talks to take place.

"Protesters dismiss talks"

Mubarak, 82, who refuses calls to end his 30-year-old rule before September polls, saying his resignation would cause chaos in the Arab world's most populous nation, has tried to focus on restoring order. His government seems to be buying time.

Keen to get traffic moving around Tahrir Square, the army tried early on Monday to squeeze the area the protesters have occupied. Overnight campers rushed out of their tents to surround soldiers attempting to corral them into a smaller area.

The powerful army's role in the next weeks is considered critical to the future of Egypt.

Protesters barricaded in a tent camp in Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo have vowed to stay until Mubarak quits and hope to take their two-week campaign to the streets with more mass demonstrations on Tuesday and Friday.

Many young men dismissed the political dialogue taking place.

The United States has urged all sides to allow time for an "orderly transition" to a new political order in Egypt, for decades a strategic ally. But protesters worry that when Mubarak does leave, he will be replaced not with the democracy they seek but with another authoritarian ruler.

The opposition has been calling for the constitution to be rewritten to allow free and fair presidential elections, a limit on presidential terms, the dissolution of parliament, the release of political detainees and lifting of emergency law.

"The army is getting restless and so are the protesters. The army wants to squeeze us into a small circle in the middle of the square to get the traffic moving again," protester Mohamed Shalaby, 27, told Reuters by telephone.

"Govt road map"

The government issued a statement after a first round of talks on Sunday and said there was agreement on a "road map" for talks, which gave little ground on many opposition demands.

It suggested reforms would be implemented with Mubarak staying in power until September. It also put conditions on lifting emergency law, which the opposition says has been used to stifle dissent and should end immediately.

Mubarak's new cabinet pledged on Monday to keep subsidies and draw in foreign investment in its first meeting since the uprising over poverty, high prices and an end to Mubarak's rule.

The opposition has made big gains in the past two weeks.

Mubarak has said he will not run again for president, his son has been ruled out as next in line, a vice president has been appointed for the first time in 30 years, the ruling party leadership has quit and the old cabinet was sacked.

Perhaps more important, protesters now take to the streets almost with impunity in their hundreds of thousands. Before Jan. 25, a few hundred would have met a crushing police response in this U.S. ally whose army receives $1.3 billon in aid annually.

The state news agency MENA reported on Monday that Mubarak set up two committees to be involved in drawing up changes to the constitution, one of the demands of the protesters.

Agencies

 

Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2011, 11:39
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