Meeting with FJP's Katatni leads to possible rift within Egypt's opposition NSF

Ahram Online, Monday 18 Feb 2013

National Salvation Front (NSF) sources complain that recent decision to meet with Muslim Brotherhood's Katatni was made unilaterally, suggesting possible differences between NSF's leaders

Katatni, Baradei and Badawi (Photo: AO)

A Saturday meeting between Saad El-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and key figures of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) Mohamed ElBaradei and El-Sayed El-Badawi has been well-received by a number of political parties, which viewed the dialogue as a positive step towards national reconciliation.

The meeting also, however, appears to have brought to light internecine rifts within the NSF.

According to NSF sources, the decision to meet with El-Katatni was made unilaterally without the agreement of the NSF's leading members, prompting concerns about possible differences between the latter over how to handle Egypt's current political crisis.

The FJP, for its part, released a brief statement confirming that the meeting did, in fact, occur, but gave no details regarding what was discussed. It merely stated that El-Katatni had "reviewed recent developments" with the two NSF figures.

Following the meeting with El-Katatni, another key meeting between NSF leaders – which had been scheduled for Sunday – was abruptly called off.

NSF spokesman Khaled Dawood attributed the cancelation to the "fast pace" of recent political developments. Some observers, however, saw the meeting's last-minute cancellation as an indication of internal discord between the leaders of the nascent opposition umbrella group.

NSF leaders had been expected to adopt a final position at Sunday's cancelled meeting regarding a reconciliation initiative proposed by the Salafist Nour Party – which has itself become increasingly critical of Egypt's presidency.

The initiative entails replacing the current government of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, dismissal of the Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general, and the return of the NSF to the negotiating table after the latter had staunchly refused to participate in reconciliation talks with the presidency.

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