Egyptian presidency calls for political dialogue for all

Opposition outside Egypt including Muslim Brotherhood likely to be excluded from invitation.

Egyptian presidency calls for political dialogue for all

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on the country's political parties for a comprehensive dialogue, which is considered the first since he took power in 2014.

An Egyptian expert told Anadolu Agency that the political dialogue will include the participation of civilian and Salafist Islamist groups and supporters of the regime and does not include any from the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was outlawed by the Egyptian authorities as of 2013.

The call by the Egyptian presidency comes a few hours after an Egyptian court ruling to keep the Muslim Brotherhood on the Egyptian terror list for a further five years.

It also shortly comes after al-Sisi directed the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee, a committee that was formed in 2016.

A rare invitation

During the annual "Egyptian Family Iftar" banquet in Cairo on Tuesday, Al-Sisi made his invitation, where he called on all political powers to carry out a comprehensive political dialogue on priorities for a national plan of action.

Al-Sisi urged the parties to submit their recommendations to him personally and promised to attend the final phases of the dialogue.
"The nation [Egypt] accommodates all, and differences of opinion do not spoil the nation's cause," al-Sisi said.

He also added that the dialogue's recommendations would be submitted to the Egyptian parliament about the possibility of drafting new laws or amending existing ones.

Three steps

In what looks like a confidence-building step, the Egyptian Presidency's call for dialogue coincided with inviting opposition figures to the "Egyptian Family Iftar" banquet.

Among the attendees were figures who had been absent from recent formal occasions, including former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi and political activist Khaled Dawoud, who was recently released from Egyptian detention a few months ago, and film director and writer Khaled Youssef.

Sabahi said he spoke with al-Sisi on the release of opinion prisoners and stressed the importance of releasing the opinion prisoners for the success of the political dialogue.

The second step was represented in including two opposition members, human rights lawyer Tarek el-Awady and former Egyptian manpower minister Kamal Abu Eita, to the Presidential Pardon Committee.

The third step is the formation of the National Training Academy under the direction of al-Sisi.

The academy is expected to host several meetings between members of the various political and youth forces to develop a national ideas agenda to deal with all pressing issues in Egypt.

Who will attend?

Egyptian political science professor Khairy Omar told Anadolu Agency that the country's political and legal civilian current would attend such dialogue, who consider it a chance to express their opinions.

He also said all forces and groups that support the Egyptian regime would attend dialogue, including the Islamist Salafist current, which already acknowledges the legitimacy of the Egyptian ruling regime.

Omar excluded the idea that such a call for dialogue is a result of external pressure on Egypt. "The [Egyptian] authorities realize the requirements of the current phase, which are linked to the importance of conducting a political dialogue," he said.

He also excluded the possibility of participation of opposition figures outside Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following the call by al-Sisi, many of the Egyptian parties welcomed the move, including the Wafd Party, Justice Party, Republican People's Party and Free Egyptians Party.

The Egyptian opposition groups inside Egypt and outside, including the Muslim Brotherhood group, are yet to comment on the call.

Hüseyin Demir

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