ElBaradei slams Egypt's "draconian state of emergency"

Ahram Online, Monday 27 Dec 2010

In a Washington Post editorial, Mohamed ElBaradei says that Egypt is a "ticking bomb dangerously close to exploding"

Mohamed ElBaradei former IAEA chief

In an editorial piece to the Washington Post, Mohamed ElBaradei wrote that Egypt is living under a “draconian state of emergency.”

In the piece, which was published today and titled “Egypt’s real state of emergency” ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, once again called last month’s parliamentary elections “fraudulent and farcical,” and insisted that if Egypt wants to move towards democracy and reform it needs to do more than “go through the motions.”

ElBaradei added that Egypt has become a “ticking bomb dangerously close to exploding,” insisting that the country is in desperate need of a new beginning. He added that the wheels are already in motion and change is coming.

“The voices of dissent are growing in number. We come from many orientations, from different vocations, from different parts of society, from different faiths. But we speak with a single voice in seeking social justice,” he wrote.

In the editorial, ElBaradei wrote that what Egypt has “in theory” is far removed from what is possible in reality. He pointed out that Egypt “in theory” has an elected president, a democratically elected government and a court system. But the reality, he wrote, is that Egypt has had three presidents that ruled the country through a “repressive and authoritarian political system,” aided by a “draconian state of emergency.” ElBaradei also noted that Egypt's parliament is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), with very few seats for the opposition – most of whom decided to boycott the second round of elections on December 5 after claims of widespread rigging – and only three seats for the Coptic community, and its legal rulings are ignored if they counter government interests.

ElBaradei, who has recently announced that he will run for president only if the constitution is amended, criticized the 2007 amendments, which he claims make it impossible for an independent candidate to run. He added that a candidate who is not a member of a political party cannot have a headquarters or raise funds. He also noted that although Egypt has a multi-party system, any new party needs permission from a committee governed by the ruling NDP and must exist for five years before fielding any presidential candidates.

ElBaradei also commented on the cold shoulder given to him by the Egyptian media in recent months.

“In the 12 months since I began campaigning for reform in Egypt, I have received a flood of requests for interviews,” wrote ElBaradei. “But after the recent crackdown on the media hardly any local TV stations have dared to express interest in talking to me.”

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