"The Wafd, Tagammu and Nasserists and the Muslim Brotherhood in addition to some eight other opposition groups have formed a National Front for Change," Wafd Secretary General Rifaat al-Said told AFP on Saturday.

He said that a common platform would be drafted but that the front would not field candidates in its name in the elections next month.

"The Wafd, Tagammu and the Nasserists will in all likelihood field candidates as part of a coalition while the Brotherhood will field their own," he said.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said that the group, which is officially illegal and could not field a candidate for the 7 September presidential elections, would contest the November polls where its candidates would run as independents.

"We will have our own candidates but will coordinate with the National Front," Mohammed Habib said.

Ghad party out

The party of presidential candidate and outspoken opposition leader Ayman Nour of the Ghad (Tomorrow) party did not join the front.

Wafd party leader Numan Gumaa
came third in September's poll

"Ghad was rejected by the Wafd," said the party's vice-president Hisham Qassem.

Wafd veteran leader Numan Gumaa trailed in third to his long-time foe Nour, who also is a former member of the Wafd, in the September poll that President Hosni Mubarak won. Mubarak has been in power since 1981.

Commentators have long underscored the inability of Egypt's opposition parties to challenge Mubarak's rule owing to their fledging legitimacy, failure to rally support and also to the government's reluctance to share power.

The other groups that joined the front on Saturday were the Kefaya movement, Centre Party, Karama Party, the National Coalition for Reform, the National Gathering for Democratic Change, Labour party and the Popular Campaign for Change.