National powers call for ‘serious’ national dialogue with army participation

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CAIRO: A number of political powers called Sunday for initiating a serious national dialogue over the basics of establishing a new political regime in Egypt in which the army participates.

The attendees said during a conference called upon by the Journalists’ Syndicate as an alternative to the official national dialogue, that the army’s role in this regime should be discussed including its budget and its role in the internal political life in Egypt.

"It is time to discuss the role of the army in the Egyptian public life especially after Saturday’s incidents, because violence from the army toward protesters is unacceptable as much as attempting to drive a wedge between the people and the army," said Essam El-Erian, spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

Two protesters were reportedly killed and 71 were injured after the army forcefully dispersed a sit-in in Tahrir Square early Saturday.

Participants condemned the use of violence saying it caused a rift between the people and the army.

"We respect the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), but they aren’t above questioning and they aren’t guardians on us but only guarantors of the revolution’s demands," said Rafeeq Fayez, member of the Youth of the Revolution Coalition.

"What happened shook our confidence in the SCAF … [as if] we returned to Mubarak’s era and the only way to restore this confidence is by quickly prosecuting Mubarak," he added.

They called for pressuring on the SCAF to achieve the rest of the demands, mainly bringing regime figures to quick trials but without instigating confrontation with the army.

"I am not comfortable with the campaign against the army and the goals behind it; we should continue the pressure to achieve our demands without resorting to confrontation," said Aboul Ela Mady, head of Al-Wasat Party.

Participants also condemned the participation of eight officers in the protests demanding reform within the army.

"The army isn’t politicized and should remain so. Its internal role should be confined to protecting the constitution and we should stop those who are trying to spark a rebellion within the army," El-Erian said.

He said that the army’s budget will be included in the dialogue but away from the media hype.

"The main reason for the big army budget is the presence of Israel, but Israel will fall apart in the next few years because the authoritarian regimes which protected it fell apart. Then we will have to review the army’s budget," El-Erian said.

Participants called for establishing a public entity to manage a national dialogue over a new political regime and unite the political powers that are “in dispute” after the revolution.

"There is no room for disputes since the revolution’s main demand of overthrowing the regime hasn’t been achieved yet and only its head was overthrown," said Islamic thinker and writer Mohamed Omara.

"Keeping Jan. 25 powers united is a must. We must have a dialogue in which we can have different views but should not develop it into disputes," he added.

They said that the official national dialogue called upon by the Cabinet excluded some figures and groups and ignored a number of main issues.

"We are living in a contradictory political status, the people who instigated the revolution aren’t in power and the SCAF was put in power within a political vacuum of weak parties and new parties waiting to be established," said Abdel Ghaffar Shor, leftist figure and former member of Al-Tagammu Party.

"We all must agree on a list of tasks that should be accomplished to establish a new political regime in Egypt," he added.

A series of similar conference are scheduled to be held at the syndicate.


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