On 14 January the liberal Mohamed ElBaradei has made public he will not run for President in the upcoming Presidential elections in Egypt. The former International Atomic Energy Agency director and Nobel laureate declared “the former regime did not fall” after the revolution, referring to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
SCAF in power
The SCAF has repeatedly announced it will hand over full power to the newly elected president in June. However, many Egyptians believe the military want to maintain a significant influence on the government in the future and think they will not step down. ElBaradei has been a major player in the revolution that toppled President Mubarak in February. He expressed profound criticism on the military council that has been governing Egypt for almost a year now. “I have examined the best ways of serving the goals of the revolution and I found that there is no official post for me, not even the post of President,” ElBaradei said. "The captains of the vessel are still treading old waters, as if the revolution did not take place".
Reactions on the statement
ElBaradei’s statement was met with disappointment among politicians and intellectuals in the country, as they feel he should have continued just exactly because the former regime has not been entirely toppled yet. Transition to democracy comes with hurdles and setbacks, and freedoms and rights have to be fought for. “Many people were counting on him to inact the change the revolution demanded and to really oust the former regime,” lawyer and political activist Essam al-Eslambolli said. Even members of the winning party in the lower house, the Islamic Freedom and Justice Party, called upon ElBaradei to reconsider his decision. The more people are participating in presidential elections, the more choices become available, and Egypt needs ElBaradei to eventually reach democracy, they argue.
Apart from Baradei’s critical position towards the military council, other unrevealed reasons may have played a role in his decision as well. Whereas the 69-year old liberal is internationally respected and praised as an important candidate for the presidential elections, he is barely known among the ‘normal’ Egyptians. Moreover, the Islamic parties have won the polls overwhelmingly in parliamentary elections, while ElBaradei is liberal minded. These reasons may have driven him to withdraw, realizing he would make it if he took part in the elections. Nevertheless, ElBaradei has played an important role in the revolution and is seen as a man who could steer Egypt into democracy.
Sources: Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, NRC
Image Flickr: by World Economic Forum