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TV debate reveals Egyptians disappointment in the National Salvation Front

An overwhelming majority of attendees of a debate held on Tuesday in Cairo said that the Egyptian opposition had disappointed them and wasted reform opportunities, at a time when political disputes and instability increase in the largest Arab state.

About 79 per cent of the attendants agreed on the suggestion that “the Egyptian opposition disappointed them and wasted reform opportunities,” while 21 per cent opposed this suggestion. However, the huge discrepancy was slightly reduced after the proposal was voted upon again. It became 71.3 per cent to 28.7 per cent.


The debate was broadcast by German TV Deutsche Welle, together with other local and American channels. On the panel was Dr Hisham Hellyer, a fellow at The Brookings Institute in Washington and Hosam Fares, a member of the Egyptian opposition party Al-Dostour and member of the National Salvation Front.

The debate took place in the Conference Hall of the Al-Azhar University for the ‘Debates of the New Arabs’ series, which was launched by the veteran former BBC correspondent Tim Sebastian. The series is sponsored by the UK Foreign Secretary and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The aim of the series is to encourage youths to be more involved in the political and social development within their countries.

Hellyer said: “The Egyptian opposition cannot mobilise the population or direct it… It uselessly tries to get the support of the street it is supposed to be leading. It wasted the opportunity and disappointed the people, including great personalities connected to it.”

The guest speaker from Brookings Institute went on to say: “Egyptians deserve a better leadership from the opposition which is supposed to lead them and give them hope…When we have a bad government, we need a far better opposition.”

Hellyer suggested that the opposition should step forward and engage in a dialogue with the government, even if it withdraws later because of its futility.

Meanwhile, the prominent opposition figure, Mohammed al-Baradei, announced on Monday three conditions to end the stand-off with the Islamist president to reach a national agreement. He said; “We will start the dialogue if the three conditions were fulfilled; forming a new neutral government headed by a credible prime minister, assigning an independent Public Prosecutor, who is respected by Egyptians, and forming a new committee to lay down a new law that guarantees transparent elections.”

Al-Baradei is the coordinator of the National Salvation Front, which includes liberal and leftist parties. It threatened to boycott the elections, which was supposed to be held this April, but was postponed after a court decision had rescinded the elections law.

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