The National Dialogue has been Morsi's answer to critics who accuse him of not listening to voices outside the Brotherhood. But almost all opposition parties, rights activists and pro-democracy youth groups behind the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising have refused his calls to join past sessions, saying the gatherings are just for show.
Tuesday's session was no different, with the roughly 20 participants mainly fellow Islamists.
"God willing, the elections will reflect the spirit of Egyptians," Morsi said in opening remarks at the start of the dialogue, held at the presidential palace in a Cairo suburb and carried live on state TV.
Ziad el-Oleimi, a former lawmaker and an icon of the 2011 uprising, said the boycott of the election could succeed in stripping Morsi's administration of its legitimacy. But he warned that it must also provide an alternative path for the revolution to achieve its goals.
He recalled the last parliamentary election held while Mubarak in power in late 2010, by far the most fraudulent in the ousted leader's 29 years in power. Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party won all but a handful of seats in that election.
"This is how it was in 2010, and the (Mubarak) regime didn't last for more than three months after," he said, alluding to Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. "A dialogue has no meaning, because we are not part in the decision-making. Let the ruler take the decisions alone."
Khaled Abdel-Hamid, another icon of the uprising whose Popular Alliance party is boycotting the vote, said the opposition should push the campaign of civil disobedience, including not paying taxes or utility bills, in addition to the boycott.
"The aim now is to bring down this regime," he said.
Abdel-Rahman Youssef, a poet, TV presenter and leading protester in the 2011 uprising, stayed away from Tuesday's dialogue but said he intended to run in the election as an independent. He renounced the boycott decision, saying it was made by "senior citizens" and that it reinforced the notion that part of the crisis in Egypt is one of a generational conflict.
"How can the young learn about politics if they boycott everything?" he said, saying that it is time for the secular and liberal crowd to take on the Brotherhood which is losing popularity and is in a dispute with some of the Salafis.
"The boycott is a step backward, and running away from a battle we have to enter," he said.
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