National Dialogue: Participatory politics

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 26 Nov 2022

The National Dialogue’s Council of Trustees is expected to resume meetings this week.

National Dialogue
National Dialogue

 

The National Dialogue’s 19-member Council of Trustees was scheduled to hold its 13th meeting on Wednesday during which the results of both the 23-25 October Economic Conference and COP27 were due to be discussed.

Leading members and rapporteurs of the National Dialogue’s subcommittees participated in the Economic Conference and the COP27 and their feedback on the two events will be very useful when the National Dialogue gets underway, reported the daily Al-Ahram.

Human rights activist and member of the National Dialogue’s Board of Trustees Negad Al-Borai revealed in a press interview that after 12 meetings the Board of Trustees had reached a consensus on the political and economic issues that will be discussed in dialogue sessions.

Meanwhile, members of Al-Tansiqiya, a grouping of young political party members, have been touring governorates to assess the issues which the public wants included on the agenda of the dialogue.

Basma Al-Okda, a member of Al-Tansiqiya, said that while inflation had been raised by many citizens, “with the holding of COP27, issues like climate change, climate justice, and the environment have recently dominated debates.”

In a meeting with Daqahliya governorate officials attended by Governor Ayman Mokhtar, a delegation of young MPs and politicians discussed the necessity of improving public schools, the role of NGOs in society, and the need to widen youth and women’s participation in political life.

Essam Khalil, chairman of the Free Egyptians Party, said that convening discussions of major political and economic issues in provincial governorates will pave the way to a successful and fruitful National Dialogue.

“The main objective of the dialogue is to create common ground among opposition and loyalist political parties and the ongoing debates in different governorates help achieve this,” said Khalil.

“Our hope now is that when the National Dialogue kicks off, participants will be able to wrap up their meetings by recommending the political and economic reforms that will transform Egypt into a modern republic.”

Gamal Al-Tohami, chairman of the Social Justice Party, believes “economic and social justice issues will take up the lion’s share of debates” during the dialogue because they directly relate to the lives of citizens, while Tarek Darwish, head of the Free Socialists Party, expects the repercussions of the global economic crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine will be high on the dialogue’s agenda.  

According to Darwish, the leaders of a majority of political parties also agree that “political laws regulating parliamentary elections, the performance of political parties and the exercise of political rights need to be amended in a way that ensures greater political openness and grants more freedoms to citizens.”

He also noted that “the release of more than 1,000 activists over the past three months has helped create a climate favourable to the National Dialogue.”

Commenting on last week’s release of 30 activists remanded into custody pending trial, Darwish said it showed that the dialogue already is having a positive impact. “This is victory for the civilian state, for democracy and for human rights in Egypt,” he said.

Tarek Al-Awadi, a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee, said this week that the committee “is working with the Interior Ministry and the prosecution-general to make sure that the largest number of detainees possible are released in the near future,” adding that President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s decision to release activist Ziad Al-Uleimi last month was welcomed by most political parties.

Al-Borai said “the issue of pre-trial detention will be a major item on the agenda of the National Dialogue.”

“I would also like to underline that there are no political detainees in Egypt,” he continued, “and that the majority of those in detention have either been convicted of crimes or are being held in custody pending trial.”


*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 November, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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