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ElBaradei Rises to Lead Egypt Against Islamists

Former diplomat, politician and presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has risen again, this time to lead Egypt's opposition movement.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/6/2012, 9:04 AM

Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei
Reuters

Former diplomat, politician and presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has risen again, this time to lead Egypt's opposition movement.

ElBaradei has become the coordinator of the National Salvation Front, a newly unified secular movement determined to oppose Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The group threatens nationwide protests until Morsi responds to calls for national dialogue over a controversial draft Constitution and retracts a recent decree granting himself sweeping new powers.

At a news conference Wednesday announcing his new position, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) urged the president to open his eyes.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers, said ElBaradei, should “see what is happening in the Egyptian street, the division, the polarization. This is something that leads us to violence and worse,” he said, according to the Egypt Independent.

Since Morsi issued the new decree nearly two weeks ago, the streets of Cairo have seen protests nightly. The move prompted many to charge Morsi with attempting to become “the new Pharaoh.”

With overwhelming support from a parliament controlled by his party and those even more radically Islamist, his edict placed the authority of his office above that of the judiciary.

He also rushed to pass a newly-completed draft Constitution written by a National Assembly comprised of Islamist members. The process was boycotted by Christians, secularists and liberal lawmakers. The president immediately set December 15 for a national referendum on passage of the new Constitution.

"The ball is in his court,” ElBaradei acknowledged, but warned, “Bullying will not accomplish anything in this country. “

Just as nearly two years ago the revolution had destroyed the decades-old regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, Elbaradei reminded Morsi that it could easily happen again.

"Egyptians will protest in every place, and use all legitimate measures, and won't back down from this battle we began for freedom,” he said, describing Morsi's administration as “a repressive regime.”

Reminding the Egyptian public of the goals for which they had fought in 2011, ElBaradei noted, “The demands of the revolution were for social justice, freedom and dignity. Our battle continues, and will be peaceful. Our strength is in our unity and numbers, and we will be victorious because we are in the right.

"I call on Morsi to appear on TV to address the nation to announce that he is open to national dialogue,” ElBaradei said.