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Egypt's 'Committee of the Wise' wants to be in transition talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Divisions grow in Egypt
  • Egyptian intellectual, business and judicial leaders form "Committee of the Wise"
  • They want to be part of transition discussion
  • Group wants Vice President Suleiman to manage government for now

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Ammar Sherie is a renowned musician. Naguib Sawiris made billions in the telecom business. Veteran diplomat Amre Moussa is the Arab League's secretary-general.

These three and 16 other Egyptians have put their heads and hearts together to form the "Committee of the Wise," a group of independent elite that wants to be at the table during crucial government transition talks.

The committee late Friday called on protests to continue at Tahrir Square every Tuesday and Friday until President Hosni Mubarak "resigns and makes true the demands of the people."

Mubarak, who has led the African nation for three decades, said he has no intention of stepping down until September, when his term ends.

But 11 days of bloody protests and high tension have offered no assurance of that outcome.

Opposition groups are lining up to be part of the talks; the Committee of the Wise reached out to the regime Friday.

Some opposition political parties that had previously refused to meet with government officials told CNN they have agreed to meet with Vice President Omar Suleiman on Saturday.

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A manifesto published Thursday in the Shorouk newspaper called for Mubarak to remain as a symbolic leader and to delegate to Suleiman responsibility for the transition period.

It also called on Suleiman to dissolve parliament, work with a committee on constitutional changes and allow the formation of a new government "comprised of independent and popular individuals and highly experienced executives/bureaucrats."

The manifesto asked for an investigation on "atrocities" committed against anti-regime protesters and to protect them from further harm by counterdemonstrators who many believe the government allowed or paid to enter the square.

The committee includes a number of publishers, journalists and attorneys. Yahya Gamal is an international law professor. Amr Hamzawy, a political scientist and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, has appeared on CNN to discuss politics and policy in Egypt.

George Isaac, a leader of the Kefayah opposition group, released a statement Friday on behalf of the Committee of the Wise.

It called on citizens to return to work.

"Neighborhood watch groups should continue its job to protect people against thugs and [it is] asking the Interior Ministry to punish the criminals behind those events according to the law," the statement said.

The group also called on the government to provide security during the "inclusive revolution" and release those detained during peaceful demonstrations.

CNN's Amir Ahmed contributed to this report.

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