Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview with London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat that the Muslim Brotherhood threatened to "set Egypt on fire" if he was to be appointed prime minister during Egypt's interim period of military rule following the 2011 revolution.
ElBaradei said in an interview published Wednesday that Egypt's current president, Mohamed Morsi, himself threatened the then-ruling military council (SCAF) against appointing ElBaradei head of the government.
The long-time opposition leader was speaking about the period in November 2011 following the resignation of then prime minister Essam Sharaf when SCAF was considering who to appoint to lead the government. The military council decided to hand the post to Mubarak-era prime minister Kamal El-Ganzouri.
According to ElBaradei's statements to Al-Hayat, SCAF was mulling giving him the position but instead offered him an advisory post which he refused. He said Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council, told him the Brotherhood "vetoed" his appointment as premier.
At the time, ElBaradei said that the head of General Intelligence, Mourad Mouwafi, talked with him at the time, making it evident that the main concern of the authorities then was that the incoming head of government wouldn’t force senior military council figures Tantawi and Sami Anan to step down.
Mubarak-era minister and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa made an identical claim this month, saying that leading Brotherhood member Saad El-Katatni lodged the same threat to "burn" Egypt if Moussa was appointed.
Moussa, speaking on a popular television talk show, said that a SCAF leader had informed him of the threat.
Both ElBaradei and Moussa, along with Nasserist former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, are leading members of the National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt's main opposition grouping.
During the interview, ElBaradei said he believes the military has no wish to rule despite calls by many for the army to return to power, due to the "bitter experience" they had in running the country, mentioning that SCAF left power to the chants of "down with military rule" resonating in Egyptian streets.
Despite a widespread conviction that there existed an agreement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military that the latter would ease the former's ascent to power in exchange for the Brotherhood’s safeguarding the army's many privileges, ElBaradei dismissed the scenario, telling Al-Hayat that SCAF had a real fear that Brotherhood rule would change the identity of Egyptian society.
In 2011, anti-SCAF protesters wanted to declare ElBaradei prime minister, attempting but failed to talk him into accepting the plan.
ElBaradei said in the interview that he refused to take the step – a decision for which many are still angry at him for taking, he said – to prevent civil infighting from occurring, should he becomes a de facto prime minister while the military council was still in power.