News24

Egypt starts 'dialogue'

2011-02-03 14:15

Cairo - Egypt has started a dialogue with "political parties and national forces," state television said on Thursday, but the main opposition coalition rejected any talks before President Hosni Mubarak goes.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said talks would involve protesters in Tahrir square, focal point of sometimes deadly anti-Mubarak rallies which entered their tenth day on Thursday.

Vice President Omar Suleiman has started a dialogue with "political parties and national forces" against the backdrop of the ongoing protests, a news ticker on state television said.

"The dialogue will include representatives of protesters in Tahrir Square," according to Shafiq, the television reported.

The official Mena news agency said Suleiman and Shafiq "met a group of representatives and heads of parties who have accepted to join a national dialogue, this morning at the cabinet".

But the opposition Coalition for Change rejected any talks before Mubarak steps down. It includes Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, members of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, the Kefaya movement and other political parties.

"Our decision is clear: no negotiations with the government before Mubarak goes. After that, we're ready for dialogue with Suleiman," coalition member and spokesperson Mohammed Abul Ghar told AFP.

ElBaradei - best known abroad as the former head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, but little known on the Egyptian street - has become a central figure in the unprecedented uprising against Mubarak.