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Candidate ElBaradei

Candidate ElBaradei

Rules prevent an independent candidate from running for President of Egypt, but one man’s huge popular support could be threatening the established order.

April 13, 2010 4:59 by

It all culminated in a February 23 press conference announcing the formation of a National Front for Change, whose list of demands includes ending the 30-year state of emergency which has been in place for Mubarak’s entire tenure, removing restrictions on independent candidates, imposing a two-term limit on the presidency, and allowing local and international civil society organizations to monitor elections.

ElBaradei has repeatedly stated that, after a decade running the IAEA, he would be content heading into retirement. And it remains to be seen whether he and his supporters can successfully translate their momentum from newspaper pages and Facebook groups into the heavily restricted Egyptian political arena.

Usama el-Ghazali Harb, head of the opposition Democratic Front party, said ElBaradei has already injected some much-needed enthusiasm into the moribund local scene. “Politics has returned to Egyptian public life,” Harb wrote in the independent daily Al Masry Al Youm. “Citizens are engaging in politics voluntarily.”

Regardless of whether or not he runs, ElBaradei has already positioned himself as a potential complicating factor in the long-rumored plans for Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father. In opposing that outcome, ElBaradei is building on the foundation established by the Kefaya Movement, which first captured public attention in 2004 and 2005 by rallying around an anti-Gamal platform.

Theoretically, he could do just as much damage as a high-profile boycotter of the 2011 vote, gathering other independent and opposition forces to his side around the accusation that the Egyptian democratic game is rigged.

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