Comprehensive national dialogue may ease Egypt's tension

2013-01-27 22:48:39 GMT2013-01-28 06:48:39(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A real comprehensive national dialogue with clear agenda, practical mechanisms and guarantees for implementation of its agreement could ease the tense political scene in Egypt, which was engulfed by violent clashes over the past few days.

After days of bloody confrontations across the country, growing division between President Mohamed Morsi's supporters, mainly conservatives and Islamists, and his opponents, mostly secularists, liberals, leftists and Copts, has reached an alarming level necessitating national dialogue and consensus to end the ongoing turmoil.

At least nine people were killed and over 600 others injured nationwide on Friday during clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces, as the former were celebrating the second anniversary of Egypt's political upheaval that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

On Saturday, at least 31 were killed and over 300 injured in clashes in Port Said between police and protesters, after a court ruled to execute 21 convicts in a local soccer riot that killed 74 people last year. Besides, at least seven were killed and over 630 injured Sunday, also in Port Said, during a mass funeral for the victims of Saturday's clashes.

The bloody scene in Egypt increased the political challenges facing Morsi, as tens of thousands of protesters flocked to main squares all over Egypt to protest against the alleged " undemocratic exercise of power by the current Islamic administration."

Morsi ordered in a televised speech Sunday evening to impose a curfew and a state of emergency in the turmoil-stricken Port Said governorate, as well as Suez and Ismailia, due to the ongoing bloody clashes.

The presidency issued a statement after Morsi's speech stating that the president invites 11 parties for Monday's dialogue, including al-Dostour Party headed by opposition bloc the National Salvation Front (NSF) leader Mohamed Elbaradei, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, al-Wafd Party, Strong Egypt Party and others.

"Dialogue is the only way to put an end to the political crisis in Egypt, provided that it contains a clear agenda and a neutral committee that guarantees the implementation of its results," Mohamed Mansour, the head of Future Studies Center at Asyut University, told Xinhua.

"Egypt is going through a dangerous path and the situation is moving toward a dead end," he said, warning against widening range of violence across the country.

"The current violent events are no surprising, and urgent and swift procedures to ease the crisis should be applied," Mansour told Xinhua, adding that the crisis would not be solved by one political group and that efficient dialogue is a must.

The National Defense Council headed by Morsi called Saturday all political forces to take part in a comprehensive national dialogue led by independent national figures to discuss the controversial issues and to reach a consensus over procedures to ensure transparency in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The NSF, the country's main opposition bloc, cautiously welcomed the offer.

Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, a NSF member and vice-chairman of Arab Research Center, said the Front would not join the national dialogue unless it is certain about its topics and the participants.

Shukr said "Egyptians are fraught with anger because people's demands of better living condition, freedom, social justice and human dignity have not been met, although two years have passed."

The NSF demanded Morsi to sack the current cabinet, appoint "a national salvation government" and form a panel to amend the recently-drafted controversial constitution, threatening to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections if their demands were not met.

In a recent statement, the opposition bloc held the president responsible for the victims of recent protests, urging mass peaceful demonstrations next Friday to halt the constitution and plan for early presidential elections.

However, Amr Darrag, a member of the executive bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said that "The Defense Council's invitation for a comprehensive national dialogue is the best solution for the current crisis."

Darrag described the opposition's persistence on constitutional amendments as "a waste of time," arguing that suspending national dialogue over the constitution issue was "unrealistic."

Editor: Yu Runze
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