Youth groups walk out of Egypt constitution talks: Reuters

Youth groups walk out of Egypt constitution talks

Mon May 23, 2011 5:25pm GMT
 By Yasmine Saleh–CAIRO, May 23 (Reuters) – Two of Egypt’s most prominent youth groups walked out of a conference of national dialogue, saying members of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s party were using the meeting to try to return to political life.Many Egyptians fear members of the National Democratic Party (NDP), which ruled Egypt during Mubarak’s 30-year rule, are trying to regain power after a court ordered the party dissolved in April.The April 6 Youth group and the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution have called for mass demonstrations on Friday [May 27, 2011] in what they billed a “second revolution” to press Egypt’s military rulers to speed up political reforms and accelerate the trials of Mubarak and his aides.

“The movement withdrew … as a response to the presence of some leaders from the deposed NDP as well as prominent figures from the previous regime,” the April 6 Youth group said on its website http://www.6april.org.

The Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution issued a similar statement on the state’s news website www.egynews.net. [Arabic language may be viewed through google translator in English] [This site reports that The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist and Liberal groups are not supporting the May 27 call –RV/]

The three-day conference was organised by the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf as part of efforts to draft a new constitution and to prepare for elections later in 2011.

Political parties from across the spectrum and independent activists and thinkers attended the conference, which began on Sunday in northern Cairo.

ACTIVISTS

The youth groups complain that not much has changed since Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11. They are demanding the government cracks down on corruption in state institutions and ensures Mubarak and his family and aides are put on trial.

“We want the military council to involve us and other political movements in drafting important political laws like those regulating parties and elections,” Ahmed Maher, the general coordinator of the April 6 Youth group told Reuters.

Launched in 2008 on Facebook, the April 6 Youth group was one of Egypt’s first organisations to call for annual protests against Mubarak’s regime.

The Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, which includes protesters who participated in Egypt’s uprising that ousted Mubarak in February, was set up after the revolution to ensure the views of the activists are heard.

The NDP was blamed for monopolising politics and passing rules favouring big business with ties to the ruling elite. The party controlled parliament, often through rigged elections.

Mubarak, 83, has been detained pending investigation for graft and abuse of power at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after officials said he had heart problems.

His wife, Suzanne, who also fell ill when ordered detained, was freed last week after giving up assets but faces a graft investigation.

Neither Mubarak nor his wife have joined other former officials in jail, fuelling speculation they were getting special treatment from the military council. The council last week dismissed speculation it would pardon Mubarak and said it did not interfere in judicial affairs. (Reporting by Yasmine Saleh, editing by Sami Aboudi and Janet Lawrence)

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved

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