Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction – Nobel laureate ElBaradei

2015-05-25 15:01
Mohamed ElBaradei. Picture: Jacoline Prinsloo

Mohamed ElBaradei. Picture: Jacoline Prinsloo

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It is good to celebrate, but not right now, Nobel peace prize winner and Egyptian scholar Mohamed ElBaradei said on Africa Day. 

ElBaradei told journalists in Pretoria today that there were still too many problems in Africa, and even the world, and reflection was needed instead. 

“It is good to celebrate, but it is also good to say we have a lot of problems on our hands. I don’t think it will suffice to celebrate now. I think it is time for reflection and to say we have a lot of problems on our hands. We owe our people a lot in terms of governance, and governance continues to be a major issue in Africa,” he said. 

Elbaradei, who used to head the International Nuclear Atomic Agency, said “poverty is the weapon of mass destruction” because with it goes a lack of good governance, strife, civil wars, “and you end up at the end trying to apply weapons of mass destruction”, he said. 

When asked about the African response to Burundi, where President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term reportedly elicited violence and protests, ElBaradei said Africa should start talking about applying smart sanctions that were directed at leaders without hurting the population. 

“There must be measures one can take [against leaders who are in power for too long], but we haven’t figured out how to ostracise them [the leaders] without hurting the people. If we apply sanctions, you end up with sanctions that enrich the people in power and hurt the people tremendously,” he said. 

He said countries had to ask themselves if military intervention was the only way, if one should leave the leaders to “go away”, or whether there was another way to address the issues. 

When asked about reforms, ElBaradei also spoke out about the United Nations Security Council. He said the council had not adapted to the times and its decisions often served regional interests rather than the people. 

When asked about the sentencing to death of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, ElBaradei said he did not have details, but social cohesion was important. He said the militarisation of the state held dangers. 

He said universal individual interests and human rights should be put before regional or national interests. 

ElBaradei is set to give an Africa Day lecture, hosted by Unisa and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, in Pretoria tonight.

Read more on:    mohamed elbaradei  |  africa day

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