ElBaradei withdraws from Egypt's presidential race


REFORMER MOHAMED ElBaradei has withdrawn from Egypt’s presidential race, saying he could not run for any office in the absence of a genuine democratic system.

“My conscience will not allow me to nominate myself for the presidency or any formal position outside a real democratic system that adheres to the essence of democracy not just its form,” he said.

Nobel laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr ElBaradei was seen as the most liberal of the declared candidates and a guarantor of the legitimacy of the coming presidential poll due to be conducted by the ruling military council. The council was formerly the backbone of the ousted Mubarak regime.

He praised the young people who died during last year’s uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak but condemned the course dictated by the military for the country’s transition from dictatorship to a multiparty system.

He has been especially critical of the army’s use of violent methods to contain dissent and stated that its actions, which mirror those employed during Mr Mubarak’s 30-year reign, “make us feel that the regime has not fallen yet.”

Dr ElBaradei said he would not withdraw from political life but would try to serve society “outside any positions of power, freed from the chains” imposed by the country’s current rulers.

Egyptian analysts suggest that his decision to pull out is due to the collapse of popular backing for his candidacy. However, he has never enjoyed the support given to front-runner Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and Arab League chief. Many Egyptians criticise Dr ElBaradei for losing touch with the country while living and working abroad for decades.

Initially dubbed the “godfather” of the revolution by liberals when he assumed the role of elder statesman in initial dealings between the revolutionaries and the military, he disappointed many in the secular camp by failing to assert strong leadership and bring together the disparate forces of the revolution.

The Muslim Brotherhood, victor in Egypt’s parliamentary election, considers Dr ElBaradei “too liberal”, while the military was never likely to accept him due to his outspoken criticism of its actions.