President Mohamed Morsy met with representatives of disability groups from all governorates on Monday, to hear their demands as their sit in entered its thirteenth day.
The presidential spokesman Yasser Ali held a press conference after the meeting where he announced the reconfiguration of the National Council for People with Disabilities before the end of the year. Five per cent of national employment is to be reserved for the disabled, and the Ministry of Housing will be responsible for the allocation of housing units for disabled people. The possible exemption of taxes and customs on cars that belong to people with disabilities will be examined.
The president ordered an investigation into reported violence committed against the sit-in in front of Etihaddia presidential palace.
“The sit-in was suspended but they could go back if they felt there was no implementation to these promises. The president’s promises are very good, but they are not decisions” said Amal Gerges, manager of the legal unit at My Rights association.
Gerges added that the National Council for People with Disabilities headquarters has no headquarters and no budget, since it was formed only recently.
“The president said he would support the council with EGP 1 million from the presidency budget and establish headquarters in every governorate” Gerges said. Morsy will appoint four members of the council’s board and an unconfirmed selection process will decide a further four.
She added that the president apologised to the protesters and promised to meet them on a regular basis to discuss their problems.
The sit-in started last Wednesday. Protesters say they faced harassment from the police on Thursday as well as Sunday.
“They want to have an active role in the community instead of being a burden on it; to find a job that suits their disability and to feel respected” Gerges said.
The meeting came after the protesters organised a wheelchair procession on Sunday, from Roxy square to gate four of the presidential palace in Heliopolis. The procession was to denounce violence against disabled protesters and to highlight that the presidency has been ignoring their demands.
Morsy also met with media representatives as a part of periodic meetings promised by the president.
On Tuesday the president met with a delegation from Al-Azhar led by Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Taieb, as well as representatives from different Egyptian churches. The meeting discussed the role of religious discourse in societal change.
Morsy stressed his appreciation for Al-Azhar institution.
The president is also scheduled to have an extended meeting with party leaders, national labour leaders and youth and revolutionary movements, as part of the ongoing dialogue between the institution of the presidency and all political groups in Egypt.