Global media is reporting that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has agreed to join talks with the Mubarak government scheduled to begin today. According to one report:
Egypt’s influential Muslim Brotherhood agreed to join talks with President Hosni Mubarak’s embattled regime Sunday, a historic turning point in relations between the state and the banned group. The Brotherhood, a well-organised Islamist movement, has long been banned from Egyptian politics. That Mubarak’s camp has been forced to invite its bitter foe to talks is a sign of the opposition’s mounting strength. “We will join the talks today,” senior Brotherhood official Essam el-Erian told AFP, adding that the meeting would begin before midday (1000 GMT). Egypt’s newly-appointed vice president, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, has agreed to meet opposition groups, including the Brothers, to discuss democratic reforms leading to elections to replace Mubarak. Erian told AFP that the group would take part, but warned it would drop out if there is no one to represent the Tahrir Square protesters. “We have been invited. We will go. But our participation is conditional on giving the youth representation,” he said. “If the demands of the youth are not met, we have the right to reconsider our position.” The Brotherhood is officially banned in Egypt, but its vast social aid network is tolerated and serves as the basis of a well-organised opposition movement which fields parliamentary candidates as independents. Negotiations were to begin amid high-level manoeuvres at the heart of Mubarak’s three-decades-old regime, where wealthy business leaders close to his son Gamal Mubarak appear to have been sidelined in favour of military figures.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the developments:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautiously welcomed Sunday the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in political dialogue in Egypt, saying Washington would “wait and see” how talks develop. “Today we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged,” Clinton told National Public Radio (NPR) from Germany. “We’re going to wait and see how this develops, but we’ve been very clear about what we expect.”
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website published a statement on its agreement to hold talks with the government:
The Muslim Brotherhood has stated that out of general dedication to the best interests of Egypt and the interests of the people, they have agreed to take part in dialogue with Vice President Omar Suleiman along with other political factions. Keenly interested to salvage Egypt’s stability, the MB group will take part in the dialogue, insisting they have no intentions on their agenda to field any of its members for presidency. The group does however call for the same demands that all political opposition have called for, insisting that the youths responsible for initiating the People’s Revolution be heard and respected. The statement stresses the group’s rejection of both regional and international intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs, highlighting that Egyptians are capable of independently running their country without any outside intervention.
The MB will discuss its demands which are of interest to Egyptians, including:
Mubarak must step down immediately
A national coalition transitional government must be formed
Transparent parliamentary elections must be held under judicial supervision
Treedom to publish independent papers, free from government intervention must be guaranteed
The 30-year Emergency Law must be abolished
Recently detained activists during the protests and political prisoners must be released
There must be equal opportunities for all political parties in the media and State TV’s efforts to distort facts must be halted
There must be respect for the judiciary and its elements
There must be freedom to form assemblies to express demands and opinions without oppression
There must be immediate investigations into all those responsible for the country’s corruption and those responsible must be held accountable
The MB confirms their determination to call on the government to adhere to the demands of the people, announced by the millions in demonstrations which are still underway and which are being witnessed worldwide.
Ending its statement, the group’s chairman Dr. Mohamed Badie notes that the group rejects any description of the revolution as an Islamic revolution, stressing that is a people’s revolution initiated by youths from all political groups, sects, trends and religions calling on those responsible to listen carefully to the people and their demands to ensure unity and stability for all Egyptians.
It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network and that the Egyptian mother branch is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, is often referred to by the GMBDW as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide.
To see all GMBDW coverage of developments, go here.
For GMBDW coverage on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.