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Sayyid al-Badawi became chairman of the New Wafd party in May 2010. He stated at the time that if he was unable to politically revive the party within 18 months, he would resign from his post.
Al-Badawi’s bold rhetoric and ambitious pledge to restore the Wafd’s historical stature helped to reinvigorate the party. The chairman strongly rejected the idea of dynastic succession in Egypt (in a departure from the language of his predecessor), led the opposition’s call for amendments to the law governing the exercise of political rights as a means of ensuring the integrity of upcoming elections, and reached out to the Muslim Brotherhood to explore opportunities for cooperation. In addition, al-Badawi recruited several popular public figures to join the party’s ranks and increased the Wafd’s overall membership since becoming chairman.
A prominent businessman, al-Badawi became one of the owners of the independent daily newspaper al-Dostour in August 2010. He initially promised not to infringe on al-Dostor’s editorial independence, but in October 2010 he fired the newspaper’s chief editor, Ibrahim Eissa, in a move harshly criticized by Egyptian journalists and members of the opposition. Al-Badawi and Eissa reportedly clashed over an op-ed submitted by Mohammed ElBaradei, which al-Badawi wanted withheld but Eissa insisted on printing until he was fired. ElBaradei at the time advocated a boycott of the forthcoming parliamentary elections while the Wafd favored participation.
The Wafd eventually joined the protests that began on January 25, 2011, but al-Badawi did not play a leading role. Badawi announced in March that the Wafd would field an unspecified candidate for the presidential election. On June 13th, Badawi announced that the Wafd would be joining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Democratic Alliance, which caused much tension with his members.