Update: ElBaradei returns to Egyptian politics with new revolutionary party

Reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei, seen as one of the forces that fueled the uprising that toppled long-standing leader Hosni Mubarak, launched a new political party Saturday that he said aims to unite Egyptians and save the country's revolution from a messy democratic transition.

The Constitution Party marks a return to public life for ElBaradei, who declared in January that he would not run for president and that a fair vote would be impossible during a muddled transition.

In a press conference at the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo ElBaradei said the new party seeks to represent the revolutionary forces that have been sidelined and marginalized since the 25 January uprising.

ElBaradei's withdrawal from the presidential race was widely described as a blow to the liberal and leftist groups that were behind the uprising, which forced Hosni Mubarak out of office last year.

The groups, many of whom had found in ElBaradei a rallying figure for their calls for democracy in Egypt, had been badly defeated at the ballot box in the first parliamentary elections after Mubarak.

Islamist groups, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the popular ultraconservative Salafis, emerged as the biggest winner in those elections, winning nearly 70 percent of the seats.

The young activists were also subjected to an escalating crackdown by the country's rulers, including referral to military trials, arrests and media smear campaigns.

The Nobel laureate said the party aims to move forward to achieve the demands of the revolution, which have been forgotten in the troubled transitional period.

"The aim of this party is to save the great 25 January revolution, which has been derailed and is almost aborted, and to restore our unity," ElBaradei told a crowd of supporters and journalists. "When this revolution started we never imagined the conditions we are in and the tragic transition we are living today."

ElBaradei, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, said a new organized political group is necessary to unite Egyptians, and prepare the youth behind the uprising for a political future.

"We hope through this party … to start anew to build the country on the basis of democracy and justice," he said.

Fourteen months after Mubarak stepped down, the generals who took over are embroiled in a power struggle with the emerging Islamists. The latter dominate the Parliament but complain the generals are obstructing them. Many of their rivals complain the Islamists are overreaching.

The presidential elections due to start on May 23 have been marred by the disqualification of 10 candidates, including three front-runners.

ElBaradei said his party, which is not yet officially registered, aims to represent a moderate Egypt, and will be ready to work in two or three months.

ElBaradei said that the party has no ideology and will take itself out of the Islamic-secular polarization by focusing on issues that people across the political spectrum agree on. He said that by focusing on education, healthcare and poverty, the party would be able to reach the general public, something he admits to failing to do in the past months.

The party's representatives, who included novelist Alaa Al Aswany and Ahmed Harara, who has become a revolutionary icon after losing both eyes in confrontations with security forces, apologized to the hundreds who came for the press conference and were unable to enter the packed hall. They announced another conference that will accommodate all the party's supporters on 18 May.

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