Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The first session of Egypt’s national dialogue on the transitional roadmap set out following the July 3 ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi opened on Thursday in Cairo.
The session was attended by Interim President Adly Mansour and representatives of political parties and the revolutionary youth.
Political sources said Thursday’s session would be followed by more sessions in the next few days in order to discuss a number of disputed political issues, including the dates of the parliamentary and presidential elections.
The draft constitution, which will be submitted to the Egyptian public in a referendum on January 14 and 15, states that the president can decide which elections will be held first, although the first of the two elections must be held within six months of the ratification of the constitution.
The roadmap, however, provided that parliamentary elections were to be held first.
Sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity said several political parties are pressing the interim president to hold the presidential elections first. The reasons for this preference varied, although the sources said that they included the relative ease of holding presidential elections, and because most parties were not yet ready for parliamentary elections.
The sources added that one of the proposals on the table was to hold the parliamentary and presidential elections together, to minimize expenses and create less disruption for the public.
Ihab Fehmi, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Presidency, announced on Thursday that the national dialogue was part of a series of meetings to be held by Mansour to “ascertain the opinions of all nationalist forces, including youth, intellectuals, industrialists and representatives of state institutions, as well as farmers, in order to achieve the Egyptian people’s aspirations, and to deliver the promises of the January 25 and June 30 revolutions, and also ascertain the opinions of all social parties regarding the progress in the internal situation and the forthcoming elections.”
In other news relating to Egypt’s transition period, the pro-Mursi Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement on Thursday that participating in the referendum on the constitution would be a “betrayal of the martyrs,” a reference to the people killed in the clashes that followed Mursi’s ouster.
The statement called for a demonstration on Friday to start a week of protests defending the 2012 constitution adopted under Mursi’s Islamist government.