Political rivals bemoan ElBaradei withdrawal from Egypt presidential race

Hatem Maher, Sunday 15 Jan 2012

Presidential hopefuls praise Mohamed ElBaradei's contribution to bringing down Mubarak after he withdraws from presidential race, with some hitting out at military junta

Mohamed ElBaradei
Amr Moussa (R) praises Mohamed ElBaradei (L) (Photo: Ahram)

Several presidential candidates have said they are sorry that Mohamed ElBaradei has pulled out of the race to become Egypt’s first president following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

ElBaradei, a vocal critic of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said on Saturday that “the previous regime” was still running the country.

“My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a real democratic system,” the Nobel Prize winner said in a statement.

Most of ElBaradei’s former challengers for the presidential seat paid tribute to the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog for the role he plays in Egypt’s political life.

“I’m sorry that ElBaradei has decided to withdraw from the presidential election,” Amr Moussa, widely seen as the frontrunner to become the new president, said of his former foreign ministry colleague.

“I’m sure he will continue his efforts to rebuild the country alongside all Egyptians.”

Hamdin Sabbahi echoed Moussa’s sentiment, saying ElBaradei “played a key role in the battle to unseat Mubarak.”

“We might agree or disagree with his views on some issues, but he has our respect in all cases. We might have lost him as a presidential candidate, but the country will continue to benefit from his efforts,” the presidential hopeful commented.

For his supporters, ElBaradei is the kind of reformer Egypt needs in its post-revolution era but his critics question his credentials, accusing him of knowing little about the country because he was based abroad for decades.

Fellow liberal candidate Ayman Nour, who is also a staunch critic of the SCAF, launched a scathing attack on the military junta in the wake of ElBaradei’s announcement.

“ElBaradei’s decision is shocking to the national conscience and a slap in the face for the military council and its policies,” Nour, who cannot officially run for president due to a court ruling, said in a statement.

“I nominate ElBaradei to become the president of conscience, not president of the Field Marshal (Egypt’s de facto ruler, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi),” he added sarcastically.

Islamist candidate Hazem Salah Abou-Ismail, whose political vision is very different to ElBaradei’s, said he was “in deep pain.”

“Some might ask me why I am sad, but I’m not just sad … I’m in deep pain. The reasons for ElBaradei’s decision must be carefully considered,” he told his supporters.

“But that does not mean I wished he would become the new president,” he added.

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