Mohamed ElBaradei on Egypt's Elections 'Egyptians Have Had Enough'
Egypt's recent parliamentary elections were blighted by accusations of fraud. In a SPIEGEL interview, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei discusses the alleged manipulation of the vote, the future of Hosni Mubarak's regime and his own plans to run for president next year.
SPIEGEL: Mr. ElBaradei, did you vote in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections on Nov. 28?
Mohamed ElBaradei: No, I made a conscious decision not to do so. I was in Brazil to speak with President Lula. By my absence, I wanted to show that I would not take part in this farce. I did not take part in past votes either. Egypt is a self-sufficient, one-party regime that stays in power by maintaining a draconian state of emergency. That was why it was right to boycott this vote, as most other Egyptians did. The official results are the product of severe manipulation.
SPIEGEL: Such accusations have always been made about elections in Egypt. Why was there a lot more interference and manipulation this time?
ElBaradei: The regime is more desperate and more nervous than it has ever been before during the 29 years that (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak has been in power. It can no longer ignore the ever louder calls for change. The once proud and great state of Egypt now numbers among the so-called failed states, and is compared to Haiti, Burma or Sudan. The regime also fears the presidential elections next year. For Mubarak and his people, this poll was a test run for oppression.
SPIEGEL: This time, there was more unrest than there has been during previous elections. Has the opposition become more militant?
ElBaradei: More than ever, Egyptians are determined to bring the situation to an end. They are also more courageous than before; they are rising up. But the regime has shown what it is capable of. This time it (the regime) has been more violent and made more arrests, thereby heightening the conflict. The situation is highly explosive.
SPIEGEL: What are your expectations for the next parliament?
ElBaradei: The next parliament will be dominated by the president's party. It will function like the Duma in Moscow during the darkest days of the Soviet era. As a consequence, the opposition will close ranks even further. The religious-conservative Muslim Brotherhood and my own National Association for Change will be working together to bring about change.
SPIEGEL: What effect has the conduct of these parliamentary elections had on your own intentions to stand as a candidate in next year's presidential elections? Does the manipulation strengthen your desire to run, or does it deter you?
ElBaradei: My candidature remains tied to demands for fair conditions. After this parliamentary election, I do not see that these exist. I will continue to fight for democratic change, however. It does not matter to the people whether Hosni Mubarak stands for president or whether he puts his son Gamal forward. Both of them represent the continuation of the regime. And Egyptians have had enough of that.