CAIRO: Former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei appealed to the Egyptian people to join his National Coalition for Change this week, via a message broadcast on the internet.
“Change will only happen with every single one of you on board…change isn’t the responsibility of a single person or a single group. It is the responsibility of every single Egyptian,” ElBaradei said, adding that Egypt needs “a genuinely democratic system in which the people are in control.”
The video was posted on the ElBaradei For Presidency of Egypt 2011 website http://elbaradei2011.com.
Upon returning to Egypt last month from Vienna, ElBaradei found himself at the center of a burgeoning campaign for political reform which cast him as a future president.
The 67-year-old diplomat has stated in several interviews that he will not consider running in the 2011 presidential elections unless changes are made to the rules defined in the Egyptian constitution governing who is eligible for candidacy.
The constitution currently dictates that potential presidential candidates must either secure a prohibitive 250 endorsements from the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and the municipalities, all dominated by the ruling NDP, or be a member of a political party which has been in existence for at least five years — a point ElBaradei alludes to in his message when he says, “I’m optimistic about the Egyptian people. The Egyptian people are my political party.”
During the six and a half-minute video, ElBaradei describes the National Coalition for Change which he heads, and which is made up of a number of Egyptian political opposition figures, as a “framework … bringing together all Egyptians who believe in the importance of change for a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
“We need to take a decisive step towards the establishment of a democratic system,” ElBaradei says in his message.
“There can be no economic or social reform in the absence of a political framework guaranteeing that it is the people who are responsible for deciding our course.”
Outlining the main elements of his reform vision, ElBaradei mentions a parliament elected “via a genuinely free and fair ballot;” an independent judiciary, and an executive branch “whose powers are limited.”
“Without these elements we will be unable to realize a life of freedom and dignity to everyone in Egyptian society,” ElBaradei said, urging Egyptians to sign the petition for change drawn-up by the National Coalition and which calls for seven main reforms ahead of the upcoming elections.
According to the National Coalition’s website some 12,000 people have signed the petition since it was put online earlier this month.
Answering the question which he says “has been posed by many” about how the National Coalition will realize change through the petition, ElBaradei says that popular support for his platform will “send a strong, peaceful message to the ruling regime that the people want change and that the time has come to re-examine our political system.”
Addressing the political disagreements and in-fighting which is common within Egyptian opposition movements, ElBaradei acknowledges that there are “ideological differences between members of the National Coalition themselves.”
He adds, however, that these differences “shouldn’t prevent us from taking the first step agreed on by all: a democratic system in which the people choose the path [forward] and the way they are governed” before ending with a quote from Egyptian nationalist leader Saad Zaghloul, “the nation is above the government.”