-Taken from the Guardian
-Cairo - December 2010
The former UN nuclear inspectorate chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said he will not run in next year's Egyptian presidential elections, after dismissing the country's recent parliamentary poll as a "farce" and warning of dire consequences if the government continues to suppress peaceful protests.
In a wide-ranging video message released today, the Nobel laureate urged all Egyptians to boycott the 2011 vote and warned President Hosni Mubarak's government there would be violence on the streets if the authorities tried to close down every avenue of public dissent.
ElBaradei's intervention came as a coalition of independent election monitoring groups called on the president to dissolve Egypt's new parliament, saying that systematic ballot violations had set Egypt "at least 15 years back". "Rigging and forging the citizens' will has become the 'law' regulating this election," they claimed.
Final results from last week's vote indicated that opposition parties secured 14 seats in the 508-strong people's assembly, with Mubarak's ruling NDP party now enjoying complete dominance of the legislature.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest organised opposition force, was left without a single representative in parliament after withdrawing from the contest, citing "blatant" electoral fraud.
ElBaradei's latest appeal comes at a critical time for the 68-year-old, who has been accused by former supporters of spending too much time abroad and losing precious momentum since making a triumphant return to Cairo in February when he launched a high-profile campaign for democratic change.
"It now seems [ElBaradei's] brief involvement in politics was only half-hearted," wrote columnist Ahmed El-Sawi in the local al-Masry al-Youm newspaper. "As he retreated, so many of the substantial gains he made were wasted. His popularity diminished, along with his credibility."
Grassroots anti-government activists have criticised the "personality cult" surrounding ElBaradei, arguing that far more work is being done by pro-democracy and trade union movements on the ground to mobilise public support and pose a challenge to the Mubarak regime.
Today's video signals ElBaradei's intention to re-enter the fray and establish himself once again as a leading opposition figurehead, just as the Arab world's largest nation enters a period of unprecedented political uncertainty.
The three-decade rule of Mubarak, now 82 and frail, could end with next year's poll and there is growing evidence of a power struggle within the NDP over whether his son, Gamal, should be allowed to succeed him.
In the message, ElBaradei called on Egypt's intellectuals to put aside their differences and seize this moment to effect much-needed historical change, insisting that the status quo must end. "You are not investing in your future," he warned. "You are investing in the end of what you have, in destroying Egypt and in destroying future generations."