The Egyptian presidency has conducted secret talks with its political opponents in an effort to convince them to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi’s plan to hold elections in April has been hit by the announcement of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) that it will boycott the poll. However Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that in a bid to salvage the plan, the Egyptian president has opened secret communication channels with the opposition coalition in a bid to persuade its leaders to reverse their decision.
Source with knowledge of the secret negotiations revealed that President Mursi offered a limited cabinet reshuffle in return for the NSF’s agreement to participate. The source emphasized that this offer did not include removing Egyptian Minister for Local Development, Mohamed Bishr, from office. The appointment of Bishr, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, was strongly opposed by liberal and secular force groups.
The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the Egyptian presidency conducted indirect talks with Dr. Al-Sayyid El-Badawi, head of the liberal Wafd Party. The source claimed that Mursi also offered to replace Egypt’s unpopular Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah if the NSF agreed to take part in the elections.
Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah’s tenure has been beset by controversy since his appointment by Mursi in November 2012. Less than one month after assuming office, Abdullah submitted a letter of resignation after hundreds of public prosecutors staged a sit-in protest outside his office. Mursi did not accept his resignation. The prosecutor general has also been accused by many activists of detaining protesters for political reasons.
The Egyptian source asserted that the secret talks regarding a potential cabinet reshuffle did not include the possibility of Bishr being shown the door because of the sensitivity of his relationship with the president. In addition to being a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, President Mursi’s son is married to Bishr’s daughter. (Asharq al-Awsat)