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Egyptian parties split on agreement with military council

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
updated 6:16 AM EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
An Egyptian man shouts slogans during a protest against the expansion of emergency law in Cairo on September 19.
An Egyptian man shouts slogans during a protest against the expansion of emergency law in Cairo on September 19.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An agreement between military council and parties doesn't go far enough, one critic says
  • Another party official says it is a "positive step toward true democracy"
  • The agreement opens more Egyptian parliament seats to parties
  • It also includes a promise to consider dropping the unpopular emergency law

(CNN) -- The Egyptian cabinet is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss an agreement between political groups and the ruling military council on election policies, the status of the country's unpopular emergency law and other issues.

Some activists said the agreement doesn't go far enough to meet the demands of the popular uprising that led to the end of country's longstanding regime, while other political groups said the agreement represented progress.

The agreement, reached Saturday, includes promises to open more Egyptian parliament seats to political parties and consider canceling the country's emergency law.

The agreement also includes a promise to consider abolishing military tribunals and to consider adopting a 1952 law that opposition groups hope would prevent former President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party from having a role in national politics for up to 10 years.

Also included are plans to draft a document to guide the creation of a new constitution and a call for presidential elections following a national referendum on adopting the new ruling document.

The coalition of parties had also sought an agreement to hold presidential elections immediately after parliamentary voting scheduled for November, as well as a promise to hand control to a civilian government next year.

The deal failed to go far enough, said Mona Seif, a founding member of the No to Military Tribunals movement, who called the decision by a majority of party representatives little more than "treachery."

"These parties were fooled if they think they accomplished something," said Seif, who called for renewed protests against the military council.

The agreement comes amid rising dissatisfaction with the council, which took control in February after widespread popular demonstrations forced Mubarak to step aside.

Following an attack on the Israeli embassy in Giza this month, the council reinstated the widely unpopular emergency law that many in the opposition felt was used by Mubarak to suppress dissent.

Despite the concerns, the agreement is a "positive step toward true democracy," said Esam El Erian, the spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party and a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Yes, abolishing the emergency law was a main demand of the January 25th revolution and the council promised to abolish it, but the reality on the ground is that there are many forces debating including former members of the regime that come in different faces." El Erian said.

Military leaders plan more meetings with political parties to iron out more differences, said Major Alaa Iraqi, a spokesman for the Supreme Council.

"Pleasing everyone is impossible," Iraqi said.

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