ElBaradei urges Egypt to lift emergency law

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MADRID: Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei urged the military leaders running Egypt to lift a three-decade old emergency law, saying in an interview Sunday that this would show the country was “on the right path”.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that succeeded President Hosni Mubarak when he stepped down in February after an 18-day popular revolt has set a six-month timetable for holding national elections.

But it has not yet fixed a date for lifting the emergency law that gives wide powers of arrests and that Mubarak kept in place throughout his nearly 30 years in power and which the opposition argues had been used to stifle dissent.

“People are becoming worried that they will put the brakes on the revolution and will limit it to cosmetic changes. Military leaders should take steps that provide confidence,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told the Spanish daily El Pais.

“Egypt is the only country that has spent 30 years under an emergency law. It is a draconian law which affects civilians and a symbol of the authoritarianism and repression of the regime.

“Abolishing it would be a sign that we are on the right path,” he added.

ElBaradei, who ran the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009, returned to Egypt to publicly oppose Mubarak on January 27, three days before the massive street protests began, said he has not ruled out a run for the presidency.

“It is not my priority, but if there is a national consensus for me to run, I will do it,” he said.

Asked if he would agree to head a transitional government, he said: “Only if my hands were free and I had complete responsibility to pick people and carry out the tasks that I feel are necessary.”

ElBaradei, 68, and the International Atomic Energy Agency won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for their drive to curb the spread of atomic weapons by using diplomacy to resolve standoffs with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs.


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