News24

Govt talks to Muslim Brotherhood

2011-02-06 12:47

Cairo - Egypt's key opposition Muslim Brotherhood said on Sunday it had launched talks with authorities "to see up to what point they are ready to accept the demands of the people."

An official from the brotherhood, which the government has accused of trying to profit from the sweeping protests posing the greatest threat to Mubarak's three-decade-old grip on power, said talks had taken place on Saturday morning between them and Egypt's new vice-president Omar Suleiman.

They were the first talks ever between the government its bete noire.

"Keeping in mind the interests of the nation and its institutions and concerned about preserving the country's independence ...we began talks to see up to what point they are ready to accept the demands of the people," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official also said the dialogue was aimed at eliminating "foreign or regional interference in our affairs," in an effort to distance the group from Iran, which has called for the installation of an Islamist regime in Egypt.

The brotherhood, which is officially banned but tolerated in Egypt, is the best-organised opposition movement drawing on a vast social aid network.

Senior members of Mubarak's National Democratic Party resigned on Saturday, but demonstrators staging a 12th day of anti-regime protests rejected the shuffle as a cosmetic move.

The resignations came after Mubarak huddled with his new government for the first time and an official said that the country's stock exchange would remain closed indefinitely as the stand-off continues.