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Youth coalition at heart of Egyptian uprising disbands

Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition, which drew thousands to Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year until former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, officially announced its dissolution Saturday, raising questions over whether hopes of revolutionary change here were over.

The coalition included different groups from across the political spectrum, from secular liberals to conservative Islamists, and was the first youth political entity launched during the early 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak in 18 days.

But disagreements led to its splintering, members said at an emotional news conference Saturday.

“We used to be the pulse of Tahrir Square. However, the differences between us are huge,” Bassem Kamel, a member of the now dissolved group, said during a telephone interview.

“We don’t want to keep the entity just because the name has credibility,” the group said in a news release Saturday.

Once united in the overthrow of Mubarak’s three-decade rule, the group began splitting and became all together silent after Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi won last month’s presidential election.

The revolutionaries could not agree whether Morsi’s win was good for them.

Although the fall of Mubarak regime led to the first democratic presidential election in Egypt’s history, many agree the nation has not experienced revolutionary change. Morsi has entered a power sharing agreement with the ruling military council, which some consider an extension of the Mubarak regime.

The youth coalition breakup began during the parliamentary elections last fall when members could not agree on an agenda. Some of the members joined different political parties and even ran in the parliamentary elections on separate slates. Others simply boycotted the elections.

Omar Ashour, director of Middle East graduate studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, said the move simply confirms what had been obvious.

“They had issues with their leadership,” he said. “They hadn’t been functioning as a coalition for a while."

But Ashour and others said the end of the coalition doesn’t mean the end of the revolution.

“We need to create stronger coalitions, because the challenges are bigger now,” said Ola Shahba, a member of the now-defunct youth group.

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