ElBaradei warns Egypt of “new emperor”

ElBaradei warns Egypt of “new emperor”

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Presidential candidate said today that Egypt is suffering under worse conditions now than under Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, is on the brink of allowing a “new emperor” to establish total domination over the country.

Speaking to the Guardian he gave a withering assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which dominated the now defunct new parliamentary assembly and whose presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, will face a run-off against Mubarak’s last prime minister in elections this weekend.

ElBaradei said political Islamists had tried to take “the whole cake” for themselves following the overthrow of Mubarak last February, and as a result Egypt’s ruling generals had been able to engineer an assault on the revolution.

“We are in a total mess, a confused process that – assuming good intentions – has led us nowhere except the place we were at 18 months ago, but under even more adverse conditions,” said the Nobel laureate, who withdrew from the presidential race this year arguing that a fair vote could not be held while the country remained in the grip of a military junta.

“We are going to elect a president in the next couple of days without a constitution and without a parliament. He will be a new emperor, holding both legislative and executive authority and with the right to enact laws and even amend the constitution as he sees fit.”

ElBaradei predicted Ahmed Shafiq – Mubarak’s last prime minister and the man seen by many as an embodiment of the old regime – would emerge victorious from the poll.

He also argued that revolutionary momentum had been stalled by the failure of young protesters to embrace institutional leadership – wading into a thorny debate over the relative merits of horizontal and “leaderless” political change about which many activists feel strongly.

“I hope that they have learned the lesson,” he said, “and I think people are now talking about getting organised under a unified leadership and engaging the new president to find a way of working together, preparing themselves for future elections and push for national reconciliation.”

“People are tired,” he continued. “I’m not sure street protests will get a lot of support from the rank and file after the elections – people want so-called stability.

“I think we need national reconciliation for the sake of the people in whose interests the revolution was staged – the 50% of Egyptians who are below the poverty line and who have seen nothing good coming out of the revolution. In fact, for them things have got worse.”

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