A file photo of Mohamed ElBaradei and the founding members of Tamarod in May 2013 (Photo:Al-Ahram)
The co-founders of the Tamarod campaign – whose petitions against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi eventually led to his ouster in 2013 – dismissed on Tuesday as “lies” the recent remarks by ex-vice president Mohamed ElBaradei on his role in Morsi’s ouster and its aftermath.
Mahmoud Badr, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz and Hassan Shahin — the founders of the Tamarod campaign — accused ElBaradei in a joint statement of “lying and misleading” the public.
ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former head of the UN nuclear agency, released a statement on Tuesday to respond to what he called “lies and moral decline in the media,” as pundits have accused him in recent years of being a "traitor" who is working against the interests of the state.
ElBaradei said that he was under the impression that a meeting called for by the Armed Forces hours before the announcement of Morsi's removal was to prepare for the presidency to call for early presidential elections; a major demand by protesters in Tahrir Square at the time.
He said that he instead learned at the meeting that Morsi was being held by the army incommunicado and that he, ElBaradei, had to accept Morsi’s toppling so as to “avoid civil strife and preserve peace.”
However, the Tuesday statement by the Tamarod founders said that “Mohamed ElBaradei attended the 3 July meeting while knowing Morsi was in custody… he believed there was no solution but the overthrow of Morsi and the implementation of the roadmap that political forces had agreed upon beforehand.”
“ElBaradei opposed conducting a poll to hold early presidential elections as did Tamarod members…and all insisted on the immediate removal of Morsi,” the statement added.
They said the poll was proposed by then-army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
El-Sisi announced Morsi's ouster and a roadmap to democracy on 3 July in an address broadcast on TV as he was flanked by major political and youth leaders as well as senior religious clerics.
ElBaradei also said in his statement that he “strongly objected” to the subsequent deadly dispersal of two major pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo over a month after his ouster, given what he said were other “political solutions that were nearly agreed on” by political forces.
However, the Tamarod founders said that ElBaradei knew the camps were armed and that he endorsed their forcible dispersal when he attended a meeting by the National Defence Council, which comprised key military and security leaders and where the decision to disperse was taken.
Hazem El-Beblawi, prime minister of the interim government appointed following Morsi's ouster, said in December 2013 that ElBaradei was opposed to the dispersal of the protest camps. He said he rejected attempts to “condemn” or judge the ex-vice president, adding that ElBaradei's stance was in line with his values and had been different to that of the defence council.
Both Tamarod founders Abdel-Aziz and Shahin left the campaign in 2014 amid an internal split within the group over support of presidential candidates, with both of them backing leftist hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi and Mahmoud Badr supporting El-Sisi.