Ex-IAEA chief says ‘change’ is coming to Egypt
Mohamed ElBaradei received a rapturous welcome when he returned to Egypt last week
Former UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who says he is prepared to run in elections against President Hosni Mubarak, told AFP on Saturday that political change is the only way to avoid unrest in Egypt.
"Change is coming for sure," ElBaradei said in a telephone interview.
"Change by peaceful means is the only way to avoid any clashes," he said.
ElBaradei announced he was ready to run for president next year before arriving home last week to a rapturous welcome from hundreds of supporters following a 12-year stint at the helm of the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna.
"I am working to mobilize the popular masses who are pro-change in order to convert the system in Egypt into a democratic system that ensures social justice," ElBaradei said.
"The first step in this journey is to amend the constitution to guarantee free and fair elections and then have a new constitution for the country," he added.
The constitution as it stands bars ElBaradei from running for president in elections scheduled for next year, by which time Mubarak, 81, would have completed 30 years in power.
Under Egyptian law, a candidate is required to have been a leading member of a party for at least one year and for the party to have existed for at least five years.
As an independent, he would need the backing of at least 250 elected officials from parliament's upper and lower houses and from municipal councils -- all bodies dominated by Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
The aggravation of all these problems means tensions are on the rise and the only solution is to try and build a new political reality based on democracy
Former UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei
Tensions on the rise
"There are many problems in Egypt, and they are becoming worse," ElBaradei said listing poverty, the lack of social justice, the gap between social classes and sectarian tensions among "the most dangerous."
"The aggravation of all these problems means tensions are on the rise and the only solution is to try and build a new political reality based on democracy," he said.
For over a week since ElBaradei's return, members of opposition groups -- including Islamists, liberals, leftists and independents --, businessmen, bloggers, young activists and supporters have been flocking to his house in a quiet Cairo suburb near the Giza pyramids to meet with him.
On Tuesday, ElBaradei announced the formation of a political movement along with around 30 opposition figures, including Saad al-Katatni, the head of the parliamentary bloc of the Muslim Brotherhood -- Egypt's largest and most organized opposition movement
The movement known as the "National Front for Change" wants free and fair elections and the lifting of constitutional restrictions for the presidential race.
The coalition also includes prominent opposition figures such as George Ishak of the Kefaya movement, Ayman Nur who came runner-up in the 2005 presidential elections and Alaa al-Aswany author of the internationally acclaimed "Yacoubian Building."