Update: Nour Party threatens to walk out on national dialogue

Nour Party President Younis Makhyoun threatened to withdraw from the national dialogue session, claiming the president had ignored his party and its initiative to shuffle the Cabinet ahead of parliamentary elections.

“I did not get a chance to speak,” he said. “Other parties still [with ties to the administration] did.”

According to Makhyoun, many are distrustful that the elections will be fair because Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party supporters haven taken on official government positions in recent months.

“[Morsy] has appointed Brothers in key positions in 13 governorates although he promised to be the president of all Egyptians,” he said.

“He did not consider our initiative,” he added. “There is a deadlock between him and the rest of the political forces.”

President Mohamed Morsy opened the latest round of national talks Tuesday evening at the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace, despite the absence of major opposition groups, including the National Salvation Front.

Morsy said he was leaving the door open to opposition leaders who wish to join the national dialogue sessions. He added his personal guarantee that upcoming parliamentary elections would be free.

"We will ensure fair and transparent parliamentary elections. I guarantee that the next election will have highest degree of impartiality and transparency," he added.

Morsy also stressed that the judiciary would oversee the entire electoral process.

However, not everyone at the meeting supported the elections time frame.

Coptic Shura Council member Rami Lakah asked that upcoming parliamentary elections be postponed for six months, during which a national unity government is to be formed to restore security and stability.

He said it could be difficult to hold elections amid ongoing turmoil in Port Said and other canal cities.

He also said the election law should be sent back to the Shura Council since it does not allow for fair representation of Copts and women.
“The electoral constituencies were not distributed fairly,” he said.

Makhyoun also requested the Supreme Constitutional Court give a public explanation on its reasons for finding five elections law articles unconstitutional. The polls should be postponed if officials or the court had further reservations.

In response. President Mohamed Morsy said the law was amended in accordance with the recommendations of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Pakinam al-Sharkawy, the presidential assistant for political affairs, said 13 political parties and several other public figures were taking part in the session aired on Egyptian State Television.

Morsy called for the meeting in an interview aired in the early hours of Monday morning to discuss guarantees for the transparency of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin 22 April.

The invitation was addressed to 24 political parties, 20 public figures, representatives of the three main Coptic Churches, Al-Azhar scholars, the April 6 Youth Movement and Kefaya. Main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, as well as April 6 and church officials said they would not participate in the session.

Several opposition groups have criticized the recently passed parliamentary elections law, particularly aspects related to the delineation of constituencies.

The National Salvation Front, Dostour Party and Popular Current as well as several public figures announced they plan to boycott the polls earlier Tuesday.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm, MENA

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