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ElBaradei Quits Egyptian Presidential Election

Mohamed ElBaradei has dropped out of the running as a candidate in the Egyptian presidential race.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/14/2012, 10:50 PM

Mohammed ElBaradei
Mohammed ElBaradei
Flash 90

Mohamed ElBaradei has dropped out of the running as a candidate in the Egyptian presidential race.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency announced his decision Saturday.

"My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework," ElBaradei said in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times, adding that the ruling military council still had too much control over Egypt.

The council, which in the past has said it will step aside when a new president is elected in June, is behaving "as if no revolution took place and no regime has fallen," ElBaradei said.

But the truth is more complex. ElBaradei has spent years living abroad, in a more secular, Western-style environment. When he returned in January 2011 to help lead the revolution in Cairo's Tahrir Square, he was welcomed by the youth and by the liberal movements.

His National Front for Change party did not do well in elections, however, and he has never appeared comfortable at massive rallies. In the recent parliamentary elections, the formerly outlawed, more radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood swept into power, winning at least 45 percent of the seats and making it unlikely that ElBaradei's style of government will be welcomed.

As it became clear that a truly democratic society was becoming less and less likely, ElBaradei told reporters last month, "The youth feel let down... They were decimated."