Posted by: nativeiowan | February 6, 2011

where does this put us?

Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, joined talks with Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman on Sunday in an attempt to end the country’s political crisis.

Other delegates attending the discussions include members of secular opposition parties, independent legal experts, a representative of opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, according to Reuters.

The announcement by the Islamist group that it would join the negotiations was made as mass demonstrations continued for a 13th day to press for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The officially banned organization said in a statement early Sunday it would meet with Suleiman to press its “legitimate and just demands.”

The negotiations marked the first time the Muslim Brotherhood has held direct talks with the government.

Senior Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mursi said his representatives would be sticking to the protesters’ main condition that Mubarak step down after nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.

Opposition leaders from othe groups met with Suleiman on Saturday but said there was no breakthrough.

Senior government figures argue only that the president has the power to make the changes necessary to enable a free and fair election for his successor.

Mubarak has said he would not run for the presidency again in elections slated for September, but has insisted he will serve out the remaining seven months of his current term to supervise a peaceful transfer of power.

Countries such as Israel and the United States have been worried that the anti-government protests would end with an Islamist government eventually running the country.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Assam el-Aryan said his party won’t contest the next election, but it will help with the transition of power.

“We are ready for any duty, any burden that can be given to us as a task for the future of our country,” he said.

On Saturday, Hossam Badrawi — who is known as a reformer — replaced Safwat El Sherif, who resigned as general secretary of the ruling National Democratic Party. At the same time the president’s son, Gamal Mubarak, stepped down as head of the party’s policies committee.

Anti-government demonstrators, meanwhile, are continuing to occupy Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

The military has been attempting to re-open the square, but protesters have blocked some soldiers from moving into the area and some are lying on the ground in front of the tanks.

Late into the night, the army set up check points farther away from the square in central Cairo. The CBC’s David Common reported saw the army confiscating food and other supplies and has heard they are turning away cars but letting pro-government supporters through.

Earlier Saturday, army commander Hassan al-Roweny made a direct plea for protesters to leave the central square in Cairo. The crowd shouted him down when he told them they were hurting the country, and he soon stepped down from the podium, saying he would not continue talk over their chants.

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