Egypt's president in 'national dialogue,' opposition attendance feeble
[Al Ahram] The national dialogue between Egypt President Mohamed Morsi with public figures got underway Saturday with both side attempting to reach an agreement amid amplifying disputes over the draft constitution and Morsi's recent constitutional declaration, announced presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali.

Morsi attended briefly, along with Vice President Mahmoud Mekki, sitting down with over 40 figures. However,
it was a brave man who first ate an oyster...
the majority of opposition political forces refused the president's overtures made Friday as mass protests congregated at the presidential palace.

The National Salvation Front, the main opposition group led by former presidential candidates Mohamed ElBaradei
Egyptian law scholar and Iranian catspaw. He was head of the IAEA from December 1997 to November 2009. At some point during his tenure he was purchased by the Iranians. ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for something in 2005. After stepping down from his IAEA position ElBaradei attempted to horn in on the 2011 Egyptian protests which culminated in the collapse of the Mubarak regime. ElBaradei served on the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, a lefty NGO that is bankrolled by the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as George Soros' Open Society Institute. Soros himself serves as a member of the organization's Executive Committee.
, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Jerry Lewis doppelgänger Amr Moussa
... who was head of the Arab League for approximately two normal lifespans, accomplishing nothing that was obvious to the casual observer ...
, was among those who skipped the meeting.

Among those in attendance were Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, former Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Selim El-Awa, the Salafist Nour Party chairman Emad El-Din Abdel-Gafour, founder of the Ghad El-Thawra Party Ayman Nour, the moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party leaders Abul-Ela Madi and Essam Sultan, and Gamal Gebril, chairman of the System of Government Committee of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the constitution.

Also attending were Islamic preacher Amr Khaled, Al-Ahram columnist Fahmy Howeidy, Montasser El-Zayat, a well-known lawyer for Islamist groups in Egypt, Egypt's top publisher Ibrahim El-Moalem, and former head of the Legislative Committee of the now-dissolved People's Assembly, Mahmoud El-Khodairy.

It is not yet known if the meeting yielded any agreements.

Fierce protests broke out last week after Morsi issued a constitutional declaration 22 November that made his decisions immune to judicial challenge. Critics argue the decree puts Morsi above the law and constitutionality.

While Morsi's supporters believe that the decree enables the president to nip in the bud the manoeuvres of the former regime, including replacing Mubarak-era prosecutor general Abdel-Megid Mahmoud, anti-Morsi protesters believe the elected president betrayed democracy in favour of dictatorship.

The opposition also argues -- among other criticisms -- that the draft constitution, which should be put to a public referendum soon, limits many freedoms by imposing a stricter version of the Islamic Sharia law.

The presidential office announced Friday during mass protests that Morsi was willing to hold off the referendum slated for 15 December. Morsi already postponed the expat vote, which was scheduled for today.

it was a brave man who first ate an oyster...
the opposition insists Morsi must annul the constitutional declaration before holding any talks with him.

In the ensuing violence of the past few days, at least seven were killed and over 1000 injured. Assailants on both sides used firearms and bladed weapons.

Posted by: Fred 2012-12-09