ElBaradei: The man to lead a ‘free’ Egypt?

January 28, 2011

(CNN) — When thousands of angry protesters take to the streets of Egypt on Friday, one man many see as the country’s next potential leader will be among them.

The Cairo-born former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei is returning to the country, despite death threats, to be with “his people.”

“There was an edict against me a couple of weeks ago basically saying that my life should be dispensable because I am defying the rulers,” ElBaradei told CNN on Tuesday.

He said he would have no official protection during his trip to Egypt, but felt the need to express solidarity with his people in person amid criticism he has kept a safe distance while all too subtly trying to encourage change.

“I have no security when I go to Egypt …. but, you know, you have to be with your people,” ElBaradei said.

Thousands of protesters clashed with police on the country’s streets on Tuesday and Wednesday as unrest in nearby Tunisia stirred simmering discontent with President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime.

In central Cairo, people were beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were dragged away as police fired tear gas into the crowd. At least four people were reported dead and dozens were injured as demonstrations flared up outside the capital in the port city of Suez and Sheikh Zwayd, an area close to Egypt’s border with Gaza.

ElBaradei watched as the protests unfolded, posting messages of support on social networking site Twitter.

“We shall continue to exercise our right of peaceful demonstration and restore our freedom & dignity. Regime violence will backfire badly,” he wrote Wednesday night.

But one user asked: “Where were you when people were being beaten and arrested?”

To read more, visit: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/01/27/egypt.elbaradei.protests/

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