Fri, Dec 10, 2010 - Page 6 News List

ElBaradei warns of unrest in Egypt

The Guardian, CAIRO

Former UN nuclear weapons chief Mohamed ElBaradei has confirmed he will not compete in next year’s Egyptian presidential elections, after dismissing the country’s recent parliamentary poll as a “farce” and warning of dire consequences if the government continues to suppress peaceful protests.

In a wide-ranging video message released on Wednesday, the Nobel laureate urged all Egyptians to boycott the presidential vote and warned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government that there would be violence on the streets if it continued to close down every avenue of public dissent.

ElBaradei’s intervention came as a coalition of independent election monitoring groups called on the president to dissolve the new parliament, saying that systematic ballot violations had set Egypt “at least 15 years back,” and claiming “rigging and forging the citizens’ will has become the ‘law’ regulating this election.”

Final results from last week’s widely condemned vote indicated opposition parties secured just 14 seats in the 508-strong people’s assembly, with Mubarak’s ruling NDP party now enjoying complete dominance of the legislature in the run-up to next year’s contentious presidential poll.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest organized opposition force, was left without a single representative in parliament after withdrawing from the contest, citing “blatant” electoral fraud.

ElBaradei’s latest appeal comes at a critical time for the 68-year-old, who has been accused by former supporters of spending too much time abroad and losing precious momentum since making his triumphant return to Cairo in February.

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