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EGYPT: A hope to make ElBaradei a presidential candidate

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, is being talked about as a possible candidate for the 2011 presidential elections. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has not commented on his intentions, but two Egyptian opposition parties are courting him to lead their organizations, which would make him eligible for the national ballot.

The Al Wafd party and the Free Constitutional party have both revealed that they are awaiting ElBaradei’s final word before they start the necessary procedures. The Egyptian constitution requires that a presidential candidate be head of a political party or receive state permission after collecting approval from at least 300 municipal councils. For an independent candidate that is a mission impossible, which is precisely why the ruling National Democratic Party supports it.

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ElBaradei has yet to confirm or deny whether he will run. His term as IAEA director general ends next month. Despite the uncertainty, however, many are ecstatic to see ElBaradei as a possible contender. Many Egyptians oppose the idea that President Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal, will succeed his father. And many also believe that an official who has spent much of his life abroad may be better immune to the corruption of the country’s politics.

The 67-year-old ElBaradei gained popularity across the Arab world when he opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He is against a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program, and previously said that Israel’s nuclear weapons make it the No. 1 threat to the Middle East, two opinions that make anyone a hero among most Egyptians.

ElBaradei may not have a notable presence in Egypt’s politics, but his polished status of a Nobel winner and a former IAEA director has made some believe that he would do well.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo


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