Opposition Unites To Protest Egypt's New Parliament
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Let's go next to Egypt, where the political opposition is trying to find its way in the state where one man holds all the power. President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party dominates Egypt's parliament. And even opposition leaders who made gains in recent years have lately lost them again. That was plain when a new parliament convened yesterday. Yet the opposition has not given up, as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Interim government protests in front of the Supreme Court here in Cairo are hardly new, but what was different on Sunday was how many groups took part.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
SARHADDI NELSON: This kind of unified approach is what many Egyptians believe offers the only real hope for democratic reforms, especially if the unified movement can persuade Egypt's key allies to pressure Mubarak as they did in 2005. Analysts say that pressure, most of it by then-President Bush, led to the election of the most democratic parliament Egypt had seen in half a century, one in which nearly a quarter of the seats were held by opposition members, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
HAMDEEN SABAHY: (Foreign language spoken)
SARHADDI NELSON: The former lawmakers, including Mustafa Gindi, who is with the largest secular opposition party, called Wafd, plan to create a, quote, "parallel parliament."
MUSTAFA GINDI: The result shows that in Egypt we do have a problem. We do have a nation who do not participate, that we need to give them a shock to make them move and go to the street.
SARHADDI NELSON: Samer Shehata is an assistant professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University.
SAMER SHEHATA: Now, we're hoping - or some of us hope, at least - that the opposition will get their act together, as it were, learn from their previous mistakes, and mount an effective, broad-based, non-violent and creative opposition.
SARHADDI NELSON: But members of the ruling National Democratic Party dismiss what the opposition is doing as sour grapes. Hossam Badrawy serves on the ruling party's board of directors. He says the issue isn't fraud, which he claims was too miniscule to sway the results. It's that the Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled most of the opposition seats, lost.
HOSSAM BADRAWY: The vacuum was not filled up by the legitimate opposition party. I understand the frustration, I sympathize with that. I think we have more challenge as a party to not only win seats but to empower more legitimate parties to be present in the elections years to come.
SARHADDI NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo.
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