- Life Style
Reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei said Saturday the Egyptian people have stated their one and only demand, which is for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The Egyptian people aspire to build a democratic and modern state, he said.
In an interview with the Doha-based Al Jazeera satellite channel, the former diplomat called for a transitional period in which a new interim government will draft a democratic constitution that guarantees free and fair elections. “President Mubarak should retire now if he wants to leave with dignity,” said ElBaradei, adding that if Mubarak insists on continuing his 30-year reign this could lead to chaos because millions of Egyptians will maintain their protest until Mubarak's regime is toppled. The former head of the UN nuclear watchdog described Mubarak’s latest speech, in which the president said that he had asked his cabinet to resign, as “an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people.” Everyone knows that it’s Mubarak who has dictated Egyptian policies over the last three decades, said ElBaradei. ElBaradei, who some new opposition movements have suggested could be a potential presidential contender to Mubarak, said he was not speaking or representing any particular Egyptian faction, stressing the seven demands for political reform proposed by the National Association for Change. ElBaradei said he “insists on this because what we need now is Egyptian reconciliation.” “We need to build social reconciliation, a society that can move forward and build and live in freedom and dignity, so what I am working on now is for us all to be able to work together. We are first and foremost Egyptians. Who will lead is not an issue among my priorities at the moment.” ElBaradei didn’t rule out the possibility that he might lead a transitional government, but insisted that he “would only do so if asked by the Egyptian people.” The reform leader had returned to Egypt Thursday amid growing criticism of his not having returned to take part in the 25 January protests that sparked a revolt of anger across Egyptian cities. In response to the criticism, he said: “I have my positions and I don't want to ride a ready wave. My aim is not to be a presidential candidate, I want Egypt to move from this state to a country of democracy and justice. I am not after fame or appreciation. I am doing this to serve the people and I will continue to do that.” ElBaradei warned that if the army wanted to prevent chaos and achieve security, it should respond to the people's demand for Mubarak to go. In response to reports of vandalism across Egypt, ElBaradei said: “Vandalism by protesters targeted the NDP headquarters and police stations. They released their anger at the sources of their oppression.” The people, ElBaradei said, will continue in their demonstrations and protests until they reach their one and only demand. “No Egyptian or Arab wants Egypt to collapse,” he said, adding that he will take part in peaceful demonstrations today. Asked to confirm reports that he was under house arrest, ElBaradei said he has no information but he will test this report when he joins protesters Saturday. ElBaradei saluted the Egyptian youth, who he described as leading the Egyptian democratic uprising. He said his role is to address the media and engage with all his international contacts to spread the demands of the people. The US position, ElBaradei said, has so far been “depressing.” “The US must take a clear stance, [US President Barack] Obama couldn’t be with the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government at the same time. The US is either with the people or with the government.” Asked if he had been approached by US officials to discuss his future political involvment, ElBaradei said that both US and European officials had contacted him to make sure that he was safe after Friday’s report that he was under house arrest, but didn’t discuss any future plans. “Egypt’s fate is determined by its people, no one else,” he insisted.