CAIRO: Stopping short of an outright announcement of his intention to run in the 2011 presidential elections, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei told Orbit’s Amr Adib that he hoped to be an instrument of change for Egypt.
In an interview televised Saturday evening but filmed in Vienna before ElBaradei’s arrival to Egypt Friday, the Nobel Laureate repeated his stance that he would run only if there were safeguards in place to ensure a free and fair electoral process.
“There are constitutional and legislative obstacles that prevent me for running in the 2011 presidential elections. In the case that these obstacles are removed and the people agree on my candidacy, then I will not disappoint them, he said.
ElBaradei was referring to Articles 76, 77 and 88 of the Egyptian constitution that govern the eligibility of candidates running for the presidential office as well as ending the judicial oversight of the elections.
“There are no free elections in Egypt, and there is a lack of representation of the peoples’ will, which is the biggest problem we face, he said. “And there is no strong parliament that can oversee the government’s performance; and there is no effective role for the institutions that has led to the spread of corruption.
“I am willing to consider looking into [running for the presidency] if the guarantees [for fair elections] are there, he added.
ElBaradei arrived on a 10-day trip to Egypt last Friday and was welcomed by hundreds of supporters at Cairo airport, chanting for him to run in the elections and holding up placards in support of him.
“His arrival has been like a stone thrown in still waters, Karama party leader Saad Aboud told Daily News Egypt, “Prior to that it was a competition between father and son only. If ElBaradei succeeds he will be a temporary president, to lay the foundations for democratic life and I think this is what he wants.
In the interview, ElBaradei had said he would welcome the Muslim Brotherhood to form a political party within the guidelines of the constitution, and agreed that Egypt’s Copts face discrimination that must be rectified. ElBaradei also stated that women’s rights were vital and their representation in public life must increase.
Muslim Brotherhood MP Saad El-Katatny told Daily News Egypt, “Anything encouraging reform and granting the Brotherhood their political rights is welcome but this is his opinion, which we respect, but it needs to be effectively mobilized in the streets. Others have made these comments before him, and nothing has changed. We appreciate his comments in any case.
ElBaradei insisted that change was urgently needed in Egypt, citing that 42 percent of its population lives in poverty.
“We have to shift to a democratic system in Egypt that we are currently not. The [government] institutions were not successful. We can’t be living for 30 years in a state of emergency, he said.
Though the former diplomat and constitutional lawyer insisted that it was not an attack on individuals, saying, “My relationship with President Mubarak is one of respect . this is nothing personal. I don’t criticize people; I criticize policies.
ElBaradei will be holding meetings with opposition members during his stay, mainly from the Popular Campaign Against the Inheritance of Power, which is an umbrella group that encompasses many opposition groups.
El-Katatny said, “The Brotherhood is not against cooperating [with ElBaradei] on a reform agenda which will help end the political stagnation in Egypt but the elections are another matter. However, political reform is something we can all get behind.
Aboud said, “If ElBaradei succeeds, then Egypt will have begun on a new path towards a better future for the country. One of the advantages of his arrival is that it has changed the calculations within the ruling party, which means that Mubarak senior will run in 2011 and not his son Gamal. l.