ElBaradei to head national assembly for change in Egypt

ElBaradei to head national assembly for change in Egypt

CAIRO: Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the man who has galvanized the Egyptian opposition community unlike any other in recent history, continues to push forward on initiatives for change. He has agreed with a number of representatives of opposition forces in Egypt to form a “National Assembly for Change,” whose primary objective is to bring about constitutional amendments and the achievement of social justice in the country.

ElBaradei added, in brief remarks to reporters on Tuesday evening after a closed meeting with 30 leading political figures from opposition parties and movements in Egypt, at his home near the pyramids that the Assembly is “open to all Egyptians from all sides.”

The newfound leader of the opposition added that there was agreement on the composition of the preparatory committee, “the primary objective of setting up a mechanism to implement the amendments within the current Constitution and to ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections and a new constitution for Egypt.”

ElBaradei said that Egypt is “experiencing critical parliamentary elections this year and presidential elections the following year, and there is an urgency for change,” pointing out that the meeting with the national opposition leaders agreed to move in a peaceful manner in order to bring about the desired change.

Representatives from all opposition political forces in Egypt participated in the meeting, including Mamdouh Kenawi, President of the Liberal Constitutional Party, who called on ElBaradei to run for president as a member of his party. Hassan Nafa’a, the general coordinator of the Egyptian campaign against the succession, Saad Katatni, head of the Parliamentary bloc of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ayman Nour, founder and leader of the al-Ghad Party and presidential candidate, Ossama Ghazali Harb, President of the Democratic Front Party, writer Sakina Fouad, George Ishaq, former General Coordinator of the Kefaya Movement and Alaa al-Aswany, the prominent liberal author of “The Yacobian Building.”

Ishaq said that the group had agreed to establish a national assembly for change, which would be headed by ElBaradei. He explained that the assembly would call for a constitutional amendment to remove restrictions on the candidacy for presidential elections, “and will call for holding free elections.”

Katatni told AFP that “everyone agrees that no one can succeed alone and there must be a concerted effort” to work together toward ending 50 plus years of one-party rule in Egypt.

He added that the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in this assembly “does not mean that we support for Dr. ElBaradei, as a candidate for president.”

Ishaq confirmed that the National Assembly for Change would determine a plan of action at the end of March after the next return of ElBaradei, who is scheduled to leave Egypt next week.

ElBaradei, 67, expressed his willingness to run for the presidency in 2011 if the Constitution was amended to allow him to run as an independent and vowed to be “an instrument of change.”

Since his return to Cairo last Friday, ElBaradei has raised controversy in the Egyptian political arena, especially after he was received by nearly one thousand supporters of his candidacy for president. It was a hero’s welcome at the airport for someone who has yet to say whether he would run for president.