ElBaradei to join Egypt protest

2011-01-27 17:02
Cairo - Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of Egypt's most prominent dissidents, will return to Cairo to join in mass protests which have rocked the country in the past two days, his brother said on Thursday.

Ali ElBaradei told AFP the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency "was returning specifically to participate in protests on Friday".

Mohamed ElBaradei, whose return to Egypt early last year galvanised the country's faltering opposition, was visiting Vienna as tens of thousands on Tuesday started protests across Egypt, calling for a change of government.

Pro-democracy activists vowed on Thursday to step up the protests, the largest in Egypt in three decades, despite mass arrests and mammoth security.

One of the organising groups, April 6, called for mass demonstrations after the weekly noon prayer on Friday.

In a message posted on his Twitter page, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said he supported continued protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rule.

"We shall continue to exercise our right of peaceful demonstration and restore our freedom and dignity," ElBaradei said. "Regime violence will backfire badly."

He recently told a German magazine that Egyptians should be able to follow the lead set by the toppling of Tunisia's veteran president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Democratic reforms

"If the Tunisians have done it, Egyptians should get there too," ElBaradei told Der Spiegel.

ElBaradei has been one of Mubarak's most vocal critics, but has been criticised by opposition groups for spending too much time out of the country.

His absence in the run-up to legislative elections last November and during the start of the anti-government protests sharply contrasts with the enthusiastic welcome he received at Cairo airport on his return in February after 20 years abroad.

His demands for constitutional reforms, which would allow independents such as himself to stand in this year's presidential election, were quickly dismissed by the government.

Mubarak, 81, has ruled the country for three decades and has not yet said whether he will run for another term in an election later this year.

Inspired by the ground-breaking "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, the protests in Egypt have sent shockwaves across the region and prompted Washington to prod its long-time ally on democratic reforms.

Read more on:    mohamed elbaradei  |  egypt  |  north africa
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