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ElBaradei wants to be a 'channel for change' in Egyptian politics

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-05-22

Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency IAEA, tells FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview that Egypt needs to move away from authoritarian government and that its citizens need to be empowered.

Mohamed ElBaradei sees himself as a “channel for change” in Egypt, pitted against an “authoritarian” government, he tells FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview.
 
The former head of the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency says Egypt needs to shake off the shackles of “authoritarian government” so that it can play its part on the world stage and set a better example to the Arab world.
 
“Egypt is not in good shape,” he says. “We do not have democracy. And I believe that only by empowering people will we have economic and social development and be able to join the rest of the world.”
 
Mr ElBaradei is widely seen as a possible presidential candidate in next year's elections, but to be able to run for the job would require the current government to alter the constitution so that he could stand as an independent.
 
“It remains to be seen if they will do that,” he says. “But my immediate priority is to see that we are moving from an authoritarian system of government to a democratic system.”
 
“A lot of people have called on me to be a channel of change in Egypt. I cannot let them down,” he adds.
 
Egyptian election rules make it almost impossible for any candidate to stage a realistic challenge against whoever is nominated by Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
 
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition party, is officially banned and its leaders say they do not plan to put forward any affiliated candidates for president.
 
Mr Elbaradei says any future government, if it wants to be open and progressive, would have to work with, rather than against, the Muslim Brotherhood, who he believes is so popular (a quarter of the population supports them) purely because of the “authoritarian” nature of the Egyptian state
 
“The more we deny people their basic rights, the more we encourage extremism,” he says.

Date created : 2010-05-22

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