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EGYPT: Opposition leaders negotiating transition

February 5, 2011 | 10:49 am

Square Leaders of opposition groups demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak said they failed to agree among themselves on a transition plan before meeting with Vice President Omar Suleiman on Saturday.

Diaa Rashwan, an expert at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and one of the "wise men" invited to meet with Suleiman, told Reuters on Saturday that all opposition factions, including the influential Muslim Brotherhood, were invited to Saturday's talks but that they remained divided, with some unwilling to let Mubarak stay on even in a symbolic capacity.

"Consultations are continuing to find an end to this crisis," Rashwan told Reuters.

"The truth is that the youth movement do not accept Mubarak's presence in any form or shape. We are trying to persuade them to accept it. … We are trying to reach a compromise," Rashwan said.

Rashwan told Reuters that if negotiations stalled Mubarak would have to make sacrifices, given the social upheaval that has gripped the country.

"The president has ruled the country for 30 years. Egypt deserves that he sacrifices and leaves power six months before his term expire. What remains is to find an honorable departure without any humiliation, because if things stay as they are it won't be good," Rashwan said.

Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful opposition group, said discussions were still taking place among opposition leaders seeking common ground.

“Until now there is no agreement among the various parties and factions on one scenario,” Mohammed Morsy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.

He said his group was proposing that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court assume power as provided by the constitution because parliament was effectively suspended after the unrest erupted last month.

"The head of the supreme court will then call for parliamentary elections and the elected parliament can amend the necessary clauses in the constitution in order to conduct fair and honest presidential elections," Morsy said.

"Most of the clauses in the constitution concern the president. … The president has to go. We are trying to find a constitutional way out if the president is no longer in his post."

Opposition leaders did not appear mollified by the resignation of the country's ruling party leaders Saturday.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Habib called the resignations “an attempt to improve the image of the party but it does not dispense with the real aim of the revolution: bringing down the regime, starting with the resignation of President Mubarak.”

“It is an attempt to choke the revolution and gain time,” Habib said.


Leadership of Egypt's ruling party resigns; opposition groups resist meeting with vice president

President Mubarak must stay for now, U.S. envoy says

Obama urges Egypt to go into transition process 'right now'

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Demonstrators confront Egyptian army tanks that had come to demolish protesters' barricades beside the Egyptian Museum near Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday. Protesters stood their ground and the tanks eventually stopped. Credit: Yannis Behrakis / Reuters