Brotherhood mulls Cabinet shuffle, NSF boycott ahead of national dialogue

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau discussed a proposal calling for a mandatory Cabinet shuffle ahead of upcoming parliamentary polls as a way to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in a meeting Wednesday.

Unnamed sources who attended the talks said the group would air support for the plan publically so long as the National Salvation Front attends a national dialogue session scheduled Thursday.

“A reshuffle can only take place if all political forces collaborate, including the opposition,” said Brotherhood spokesperson Ahmed Aref.

The NSF and several other opposition groups boycotted the previous dialogue on Tuesday evening. 

The news came as the NSF and numerous public figures announced they would not participate in the House of Representative elections slated to begin in April.

According to NSF members, their refusal to run will delegitimize the polls and embarrass President Mohamed Morsy.

“Morsy only talks to his supporters in the dialogue,” said Ahmed Fawzy, secretary general of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. “National Salvation Front parties won 25 percent of the seats in the previous parliamentary elections. [The NSF] includes former presidential candidates who won millions of votes.”

Azazi Ali Azazi of the Popular Current said the national dialogue sessions hosted by President Mohamed Morsy are about appeasing Western powers, not discussing real solutions to Egypt's political deadlock.

“The Brotherhood wants to show [the US] that the political atmosphere is suited for elections in accordance with the demands of the US State Department,” he said.

He added that the government's refusal to shuffle the Cabinet, despite promises to consider the idea during the talks, showed how the Brotherhood is still in complete control. The only way NSF members will take part in the election will be if this fact changes and Morsy can guarantee a free and fair process.

The Brotherhood has responded to calls for a mass elections boycott with plans for a door-to-door campaign and conference series to urge citizens and political factions to run in the polls.  

Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud said the boycott would not affect the legitimacy of the next parliament. “There is no legal problem for one single stream to win all seats, as the door was open for everyone,” he said.

He added that a Brotherhood super majority is unlikely with 30 parties preparing to run for the 546 seats available.

Nagi Naguib of the Freedom and Justice Party said his party does not support postponing the elections, which he claims will return stability to the country.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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