All eyes toward the national dialogue: Our precious Egypt deserves the effort
The inaugural session of the national dialogue commenced yesterday, Wednesday, attended by Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly, and with broad participation from all political forces and sectors of society, to discuss the priorities of national work in a way that supports the development process and Egypt's Vision 2030.
The session was attended by members of the National Dialogue's Board of Trustees, the rapporteurs and assistant rapporteurs of the committees, members of the Presidential Pardon Committee, youth from various political forces, religious leaders, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, university presidents and research center leaders, civil society organizations, national dialogue issue proposers, media professionals, and opinion writers, alongside other groups.
The attendees, numbering 1,000 participants, represented all segments of the Egyptian people, various political forces, trade unions, civil society, public figures, and experts, in addition to the participation of the Democratic Civil Movement and the Journalists' Syndicate.
During the session, several leaders of parties and national forces spoke about their visions for different management systems, as well as their views on the current political, economic, and social conditions, among other things.
The speakers presented proposals to address several issues, particularly at the political and economic levels, in preparation for discussion during specialized sessions.
A documentary film at the beginning
The session featured a documentary film, which addressed President Sisi's call on April 26 of last year for a national dialogue involving all Egyptians, politicians, youth, civil associations, farmers, workers, and students, with the outcomes of this dialogue to be presented to him personally, along with his commitment to attend the final stages of these dialogues.
The film showed those excluded from attending the national dialogue, who has practiced, participated in, incited, or threatened violence, especially the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group, as well as the second excluded category, which includes those who do not accept the basis of legitimacy and governance in the country, namely Egypt's 2014 Constitution.
The film also highlighted the pardoning of 1,400 prisoners of opinion and the continued demand for the release of prisoners and respect for all views, with the statement by Journalists' Syndicate President Khaled El-Balshi that a free press is a guarantee for a successful national dialogue, emphasizing the need for a press that genuinely represents the people.
He noted that the upcoming period would be a strong launch for political and economic life in Egypt, which would be reflected in society as a whole, explaining that diversity leads to development and that the criminal in the law and any country is the discourse of incitement and hatred. He also reviewed the participation of Egyptian women in the dialogue, alongside discussing the human rights file, clarifying, through the words of Secretary-General President Mahmoud Fawzi, that the dialogue primarily concerns the Egyptian citizen and aims to reach recommendations and solutions for challenges and concerns that are important to all citizens.
President El-Sisi: I wish you success in this great patriotic task
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that his call for a national dialogue, which he launched at the Egyptian Family Iftar in 2022, comes from a deep conviction that our Egyptian nation has the capabilities and possibilities that allow it to have multiple alternatives to find paths for progress in all fields, politically, economically, and socially.
The President added, in a recorded speech broadcasted during the opening session of the national dialogue, that his call for dialogue came from his conviction that our precious Egypt possesses the efficiency of minds, sincerity of intentions, and the will to work, which put it at the forefront of nations and countries, and that our dreams and hopes require us to agree and stand together to work and unite on a common word.
He said that he addresses those present with a greeting of appreciation and honor to dialogue and exchange visions, seeking the benefit of our dear homeland and the outlines of our new republic, which we, the Egyptians, seek together as a modern democratic state, and to set a roadmap for our children and grandchildren for a promising bright future that befits them.
He mentioned that the growing challenges facing the Egyptian state at all levels had reinforced his will to conduct a dialogue that aspires to be comprehensive, effective, and vibrant, containing all opinions, gathering all viewpoints, and achieving tangible and well-considered results toward all issues at all levels.
He explained that over the past year since he called for the national dialogue, he has closely and keenly followed its preparatory procedures and prepared the atmosphere for completion.
He confirmed what he had previously said and declared that "difference of opinion does not spoil a national cause," adding: "I assure you that the diversity and difference in visions and proposals strongly enhance the efficiency of the outputs that I expect from your honorable and diverse gathering, which includes all components of Egyptian society."
He continued: "I repeat my greetings to all participants in this respected patriotic experiment, and I invite you to exert efforts to make it successful, to tackle problems and issues and analyze them, and to find solutions and alternatives to them."
He stressed his continued support for this dialogue and the provision of all means for its success and the activation of its outputs within a framework of democracy and effective political practice, looking forward to participating in it in the final stages.
He concluded by saying: "I wish you success and good luck in this great patriotic task, and I express my thanks and appreciation to all those responsible for it and organizing it. Our dear, precious Egypt deserves us to exert effort, sweat, and blood for it and to unite us in its love... It is always the goal and the means."
Diaa Rashwan: All sessions are public, and the media is invited to attend
Diaa Rashwan, the General Coordinator of the National Dialogue, said that the Egyptian state has never experienced such a diverse dialogue as the current National Dialogue, despite what was witnessed during the previous presidents' terms. He emphasized that this is the first time the dialogue has no specific goals except to agree on supporting the nation and on objectives set by Egyptians only.
Rashwan, during his speech at the opening session of the National Dialogue yesterday, said: "We witnessed other previous dialogues, such as the National Conference of Popular Forces Dialogue in 1962 during President Gamal Abdel Nasser's term, and the dialogue about the October Paper in 1974 and 1975 during President Anwar Sadat's term, and a National Dialogue during President Hosni Mubarak's term in 1994. However, this is the first time we have a national dialogue without predetermined objectives, except for one general goal that encompasses us all: to agree on the priorities of national work."
He pointed out that President Sisi has no party or socialist union, as in previous dialogues. The President has invited all Egyptians to an open dialogue about goals determined by Egyptians, emphasizing that this is a profound and fundamental difference from previous dialogues.
He added: "The National Dialogue cannot be complete, start, or end without all of you. That is why I now see this country, with its richness and diversity, as it should be, and as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi indicated: capable of generating well-studied and tangible alternatives to secure a better future for us."
He noted that no political forces, professional unions, labor unions, youth currents, or declared or undeclared parties are not represented in the National Dialogue. There is not a single individual within these currents who has announced their rejection of the dialogue. Although there are individual voices that reserve the right to disagree or question the dialogue, at the level of political, social, syndicate, and professional entities, everyone is participating. This is the first time this has happened.
He continued: "Everyone is participating, and all issues are on the table with varying weights. They are all issues of society, issues of building the state, which President Sisi calls the modern democratic state. The essence of democracy is that we share in choosing our alternatives and weighing them according to our capabilities to implement them and their credibility. Consequently, no issue is excluded."
The General Coordinator confirmed that there are no red lines on any of the proposals, except for what the Constitution and the law require. He said: "Everyone has the right to propose what they want and say what they want in a national dialogue that seeks well-studied and tangible alternatives."
He stressed that this dialogue is not for exchanging attacks and objections. He added: "This is our right. Many of us have objections to the policies implemented in Egypt, which is their right. But the National Dialogue aims to formulate alternatives through legislative or executive decision proposals. The only red line is the Constitution and the law."
Rashwan identified the categories excluded from participating in the dialogue sessions. He said: "Two groups will not participate in the dialogue: those who practiced violence, incited it or participated in it, and those who reject the country's constitution." He confirmed that these two groups are outside the legitimacy of the Constitution and the state and are not included in the dialogue.
He continued: "The Board of Trustees of the National Dialogue unanimously agreed to exclude three issues from being discussed in the dialogue sessions. First: there will be no interference with the current Constitution, as its amendment or changing its fate is in the hands of the House of Representatives. Second: the objectives of Egypt's foreign policy are agreed upon by consensus. Third: strategic national security, as there is complete confidence in how the Egyptian armed forces manage this file."
He emphasized that the national dialogue is not an alternative to the Egyptian state institutions but "the voice of the people speaking, and the government is held accountable by the state's constitutional institutions." The dialogue is a gateway to convey what Egyptians feel and the alternatives they propose to the responsible authorities, which is done by first passing them to the President of the Republic to decide whether to refer them to parliament to be approved as a draft law or to the various executive authorities for approval.
Diaa Rashwan said that since the dialogue began, there were guarantees that obliged its success, noting that these guarantees were objective, some of which were related to the dialogue topics, some were related to the balance of the dialogue bodies, and some were associated with the freedom required in this country. He pointed out that this was expressed by the release of some detained on remand and the presidential pardon for some imprisoned.
He mentioned that the dialogue process, which took a whole year, succeeded in opening closed doors and bridges wholly cut off. He continued, "During this year, a great deal of trust was built between everyone that did not exist before, and now we are on the verge of dialogue sessions in which legislative outcomes that befit this country will be revealed."
Rashwan confirmed that President Sisi will honor the final sessions of the dialogue by attending, noting that all dialogue sessions will be public, and the media will be invited from now on to attend all sessions, which will be announced in the specified locations and times, as there is nothing to hide from the people.
The General Coordinator also emphasized that the guarantees of the outcomes of this dialogue are the Egyptian people themselves, saying, "Public opinion is with us as a supervisor of everyone in presenting and defending the issues to be discussed, in addition to the president's guarantee of the outcomes of this dialogue, and the biggest evidence of this is his response in less than 24 hours to the national dialogue's proposal to continue judicial supervision of the elections and referred this proposal to the competent authorities."
Rashwan sent a message to the Egyptian people, saying, “O Egyptians, please participate with us, monitor us, and be patient with us. If we deviate, bring us back to the right path.”
Fawzy: The selection of the technical committee of the national dialogue reflects the required political balance
Mahmoud Fawzy, head of the technical secretariat for the national dialogue, said that the selection of rapporteurs for the technical committee of the national dialogue reflects the required political balance for the dialogue's outcomes.
Fawzy reviewed the stages the national dialogue went through during the preparation period in his speech during the opening session of the national dialogue:
- April 26: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the invitation to launch the national dialogue.
- June 8: the general coordinator and the head of the technical secretariat were announced.
- June 26: the Board of Trustees was formed with 21 members from all directions, affiliations, and political currents.
- July 5: the Board of Trustees began its meetings, and 44 rapporteurs and assistants were chosen for the three main themes: economic, political, and social."
He added: "On May 3rd, an elite dialogue began, discussing 113 issues distributed among 19 committees, and in parallel with it, public dialogues began throughout the country, in all provinces, and the number of sessions exceeded 100 sessions so far."
He continued: "The most prominent achievements during the preparation phase were the formation of the technical secretariat to organize the dialogue sessions and the division of the technical secretariat into four committees and four working groups, in addition to a specialized committee in content, public relations, communications, media, and logistics."
He pointed out that the most important decisions taken by the Board of Trustees included the issuance of a regulation organizing its work and the issuance of a code of ethics and conduct, which included general ethical guidelines, such as faith in the Constitution and respect for it, stressing: "The national dialogue is a continuation of an extended reform process, and this code clarified the rights and obligations of participants, including freedom of speech, respect for the constitution and state institutions, and adherence to the etiquette and manners of dialogue."