Opposition party pulls out of Egypt dialogue

2011-02-10 13:27

An Egyptian opposition party pulled out of talks on reform with the government today, saying President Hosni Mubarak’s administration had not responded “to the minimum level of popular demands”.

The Tagammu Party was the first group to announce its withdrawal from a dialogue which Vice-President Omar Suleiman began on Sunday to try to quell anger fuelling mass protests.

Demonstrators have dismissed the dialogue as irrelevant to their demands for Mubarak to end his 30-year rule.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential and organised opposition group, said yesterday that the talks had yet to tackle the issues that triggered the protests sweeping Egypt for more than two weeks.

But the Brotherhood, a formally banned opposition movement, has stopped short of abandoning the talks, despite its stated misgivings about the government’s intentions.

So far there has only been one dialogue session and no date has been set for another one.

Legal opposition parties such as Tagammu and Wafd had taken part, along with independent figures such as business tycoon Naguib Sawiris.

Explaining its decision in a statement, Tagammu criticised the government’s handling of the dialogue, saying official announcements on what had been agreed were inaccurate.

It added: “Unacceptable statements” by officials had put participants “in confrontation with the popular revolution”.

After the first session, some of the opposition parties said the atmosphere had been positive, though the administration had not made any concessions that would satisfy the protesters.

Two opposition groups said participants had not signed a statement released after the meeting, which said they had agreed on measures including the establishment of a committee to study constitutional reform.

Mubarak, in a statement read by Suleiman on Tuesday, welcomed what he has called “the national dialogue”.

Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, who was not invited, has said the talks lack credibility and were being run by the same people who controlled Egypt for the past three decades. 

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