Egypt: El-Baradei, a serious candidate

Egypt: El-Baradei, a serious candidate

CAIRO – Possible candidate for the Egyptian presidency, the former IAEA chief Mohammed El-Baradei could well become a dangerous opponent even if his chances of winning are very slim, analysts said.

  •    Peace Nobel Prize in 2005, Mr El-Baradei is indeed “a serious candidate, his profile is a presidential candidate,” said Amr el-Choubaki, of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

       Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 12 years, Mohammed El-Baradei, who recently quit the post, said he would consider running for president in 2011 if the election process was democratic.

       This requirement, which may well be insurmountable, is coupled with heavy legislative requirements that make it almost impossible for people not belonging to a party, as is the case, for filing an application.

       But without waiting for a very hypothetical revision of the law and electoral practices in Egypt, El-Baradei said he intended to commit to reforms.

       “I am ready to act peacefully and in an organized way to change the constitution. I will work with the people,” he said in Vienna, where he still resides, to the newspaper al-Masri al-Yom on Thursday.

       The violence of the attacks against him by the press and government circles close to the government for several days show that he is perceived as a serious risk.

       The daily Al-Ahram thus accused him of wanting a “constitutional coup”. Its editor, Osama Saraya, has even argued that he had Swedish citizenship, which Mr. El-Baradei denies.

       Other titles have described him as an “imported president” enjoying “money of Americans,” to whom he has yet been faced many times on issues of Iraq and Iran.

       Secretary of State for Legal Affairs Mufid Shehab said that Mr. El-Baradei would be “wrong” to think of an application.

       In power since 1981, President Hosni Mubarak, 81, did not say whether he planned to run for another term in 2011. His son Gamal, often presented as his apparent heir, has not indicated his intentions.

       Mr. El-Baradei has distinguished himself by standing up in 2002/2003 against the United States on the issue of weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Iraq. He was then at the forefront in managing the crisis of Iran’s nuclear program.

       This recognition serves him more than the Egyptian opposition which hardly makes heard its voice.

       “He has a different scale” than the traditional opponents, estimated the independent analyst Issandr el-Amrani. Mr El-Baradei is serious and represents a real opportunity, said Abdel Azim Hamad, editor of the independent daily Al-Chourouq.

       Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, cross a serious internal crisis and their members are regularly arrested. Other opposition parties remain divided and their attempts to form coalitions usually fail.

       However, members of the Wafd party (liberal) has proposed to integrate Mr. El-Baradei in the instance of the ruling party so that he can be a candidate as provided by law.

       For Amr el-Choubaki, he could be, despite the attacks from the government circles, “a consensus builder, able to work with reformist tendencies within the government.”

       He will always try to avoid the fate of another presidential candidate, Ayman Nour, unsuccessful rival of Mr. Mubarak in 2005, quickly imprisoned after being accused of falsifying documents.