- Life Style
Many people are asking why reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei has suddenly vanished from the political scene. Some are in search of genuine answers and others pose the questions sarcastically to ridicule the man whose efforts have sent ripples through Egypt's stagnant political life. Today, some of ElBaradei's once-enthusiastic supporters are turning against him.
I’m one of those on a quest for real answers, not as a supporter of any particular political camp but as a believer that competitive pluralism enriches political life and leads to the development of society.
Upon his return to Egypt last spring, ElBaradei unleashed a dynamic wave of political optimism. He showed great courage by organizing a reform campaign independent of the state and existing political movements and parties. Unfortunately, it now seems his brief involvement in politics was only half-hearted.
As ElBaradei retreated, so many of the substantial gains he made were wasted. His popularity diminished, along with his credibility. This came at a time when the government's performance was at its weakest and so many Egyptians had pinned their hopes on him for change.
Perhaps there's a problem with the mindset of Egyptians, who imagine that some heaven-sent savior will solve all their problems without strong public mobilization and action. But then again weren't ElBaradei and his backers perfectly aware from the outset that the masses needed to be mobilized for change to occur? Wasn't that part of the struggle?
ElBaradei’s mistimed absence as Egypt gears up for the parliamentary elections on 28 November, and his focus on signature campaigns and virtual activism, have created a schism between him and the public. Furthermore, they have cast doubts about his viability as a political leader, especially as he now insists that he's merely “a supporter of change,” as though to relinquish responsibility for leading such a process.
It often appears as if ElBaradei imagined his mission to be easier than it turned out. Realizing just how much effort political reform would require, he limited his activism to occasional messages on Twitter every few days as well as statements to foreign media outlets that remain enthralled by his performance yet unaware of the gap between him and the people.
ElBaradei enjoys an international status that no other opposition leader in Egypt has. But he's failed to use this advantage to get closer to the people. ElBaradei offered a glimmer of hope to Egyptians, but alone he can achieve nothing.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.