The prominent leader of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), Amr Moussa, has met with the first deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s guide, Khairat al-Shater, during a dinner hosted by the head of the Ghad el-Thawra Party, Ayman Nour, at his residence.
The meeting has sparked unprecedented controversy, as it was arranged and held without the knowledge of the NSF’s leadership. Criticism has been even more prevalent, as Nour’s media office denied the meeting, while Moussa confirmed it.
Nour told Al-Hayat that the meeting was held at his house, while his media office denied knowing about it. Nour was surprised by all this hustle-and-bustle about the meeting. “The meeting was a social dinner, where I invited more than one party to directly exchange views and in an attempt to bridge the gap in viewpoints so as to minimize the differences,” he said.
Nour stressed that he has been holding regular meetings with several parties, including Moussa and Islamist parties, “which is completely normal and is not a deal being struck secretly, especially since during this meeting, Moussa and Shater reiterated their public statements,” he said.
Nour added, “If I had the chance to bring the parties together, I would not hesitate. I am always keen to help in this regard.”
He also rejected accusations by certain politicians who claimed that the meeting aimed at preventing the opposition from mobilizing in response to the call of the Tamarrud Movement on June 30 to oust President Mohammed Morsi.
“We do not own the street and thus we cannot affect it — not me, Moussa, Mohamed ElBaradei or Hamdeen Sabahi,” he said.
In a statement, Moussa stressed that “tension is mounting in Egypt and people’s anger is worsening due to the mismanagement of the country, the escalation of protests and the impossible dialogue with the presidency, which is unable to commit to any promises or pledges, whether [they were made] before or after the presidential elections.”
He said that he had received an invitation from Nour for dinner a his home, in the presence of Shater and Saad Katatni, head of the Freedom and Justice Party [FJP].
Moussa said, “The popular anger came as a result of the government’s inefficiency. The legitimacy of the elected president is not complete unless it has the people’s approval. The opposition movement is peaceful and aims at restoring the people’s right to decide, calling for early presidential elections. This is at the core of democracy and a demand advocated by large segments of the people.”
“The June 30 protests will be peaceful without any violence. However, we will not accept any attack on demonstrators on the part of the regime forces or young members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,” he added.
NSF spokesman Khaled Daoud told Al-Hayat that the meeting had been arranged without any coordination with the NSF and was a personal meeting. Daoud stressed that “the NSF supports the Tamarrud movement and calls for early presidential elections.”
He also added that the NSF is to hold a meeting on Saturday [June 8] with Moussa to “determine the future,” stressing that this is not the first internal crisis witnessed by the front.
He added that Amr Hamzawy, head of the Freedom Egypt Party, has been trying to hold a presidential meeting to discuss the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. “There have been many attempts to divide the NSF ranks. However, we strictly adhere to our unity and strongly support the Tamarrud Movement.”
On the other hand, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Yasser Mehrez, said that the meeting between Shater and Moussa came as the result of the invitation of Nour “to bridge the gap in viewpoints and demonstrate the opposition’s insights to the Muslim Brotherhood.”