Enterprise Explains: The national dialogue
Enterprise Explains: The national dialogue: In April, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called for a national dialogue that would help set the country’s political roadmap and economic priorities moving forward. The dialogue will bring together political parties and factions across the spectrum (with the exception of the Ikhwan). To signal his seriousness about the dialogue being all-encompassing, the president vowed to consider releasing political activists currently held in pre-trial detention to allow their participation in the process.
The dialogue will start in the first week of July, according to a statement from the dialogue’s organizers. Journalists’ Syndicate Head Diaa Rashwan was named general coordinator of the dialogue, and will be tasked with negotiating with political and union powers and other participating parties to form a 15-member board of trustees for the initiative.
We’ve done this before — it’s just been a long time: Egypt’s last national dialogue was held nearly 30 years ago during Hosni Mubarak’s regime, in the aftermath of a wave of terrorist attacks in 1993. That dialogue was designed to move the country forward with political reforms and uprooting terrorism.
The aim this time around: The dialogue should focus on addressing Egypt’s political and economic priorities moving forward towards what is being dubbed as the “new republic,” El Sisi said. At the end of the process, a set of “recommendations” should be prepared and presented to the president. El Sisi has also said that he will personally attend the final stages of the dialogue.
Who’s joining: Registration is open for anyone who would like to participate in the national dialogue through its website (here). The registration form asks applicants to provide their full name, national ID number, contact information, the governorate they reside in, and (where applicable) the political party they belong to. Applicants are also asked to briefly write about their “vision” or proposed topics for the dialogue.
The agenda: The president’s announced scope appears to be a general parameter for the process, but the specific agenda will be determined by the National Training Academy (NTA), which is organizing the dialogue. A handful of political forces and research centers have already sent in proposals and ideas for how the dialogue should proceed and what the outcomes should be, the NTA said. The academy has set up a committee to compile and review these ideas into a comprehensive and unified roadmap for the dialogue.
Each group is coming to the table with their own set of priorities and issues they want to bring up: The Journalists’ Syndicate’s agenda is pushing for “greater press and media freedoms,” Rashwan said last month, while political party El Wafd is suggesting that the dialogue tackles amendments to the 2014 constitution and changing some laws, including the Political Parties Act and the National Elections Act, said party chairman Abdel Sanad Yamama.
The general sentiment about the dialogue is rather positive: Researchers such as Khaled Okasha, head of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies and Mohamed Fayez Farahat, head of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, also came out in support of the initiative. Both Okasha and Farahat vowed to prepare and submit papers on different aspects of Egypt’s political and economic reforms, security challenges, and other important issues for the dialogue.