In a rare burst of openness before a U.S. visit, Egypt's prime minister said Thursday he will try to convince President Bush that the world's largest Arab nation is making big strides toward democracy — even as he acknowledged the upcoming presidential vote won't be a true election.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief also took a hard line against religious groups, saying the Muslim Brotherhood — the country's largest and most-organized opposition — "will never be a (political) party."
He said the government has not decided whether to allow international monitors during the September election — a plan the Bush administration is expected to push.
Nazief's visit next week to Washington comes at a time when Egypt suddenly faces a whirlwind of change after years of static. Daily political protests challenge President Hosni Mubarak's 24-year rule, and the president himself shocked his nation by saying he would allow opponents to run in the election.