Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei prepare to give him a hero's welcome at the Cairo airport yesterday.
Supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei prepare to give him a hero's welcome at the Cairo airport yesterday.
Supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei prepare to give him a hero's welcome at the Cairo airport yesterday.

Warm welcome home for ElBaradei

The former UN atomic energy chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, was greeted in Cairo airport last night by hundreds of supporters.

CAIRO // The former UN atomic energy chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, was greeted in Cairo airport last night by hundreds of boisterous supporters who chanted pro-reform slogans and called for him to run for president. Mr ElBaradei was on two occasions unable to leave the VIP lounge at the airport after his plane touched down from Vienna because of the crowds that gathered to celebrate his return.

The crowd sang the national anthem and chanted: "ElBaradei, you can't go back, we need you." Many held up placards with pictures of Mr ElBaradei or slogans reading: "ElBaradei for president of Egypt." "Hope is being born today," said one woman in her 40s who asked not to be named. "I came because I know with ElBaradei we will start a long journey that will entail a lot of struggle and effort, but we want to start it with him, and I came to tell him thank you and that we love him," said the woman whose son, a graduate in computer science, had to leave Egypt to find a job in his field.

"Egypt deserves much better than how things are these days." Among the crowd were political activists of all stripes, including the author Alaa El Aswany, George Ishaq, the head of the Kefaya movement, which opposes the presidency of current President Hosni Mubarak, and a number of Muslim Brotherhood members. Also there was Gamila Ismail, the wife of former political prisoner and current head of the opposition Al Ghad party, Ayman Nour.

Security in and around the airport was not as large as expected after security sources had said on Thursday that measures would be taken to prevent any "illegal demonstrations" by Mr ElBaradei's supporters at the airport. Mr ElBaradei, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the IAEA in 2005, has repeatedly called for democratic change in Egypt since stepping down as the agency's head in November.

On the eve of his return, he reaffirmed his determination to "do everything I can for Egypt to advance toward democracy and economic and social progress". "I hope to be an instrument for change," the long-time international civil servant said in an interview with Egypt's Dream TV. "I am ready to throw myself into Egyptian political life on the condition that there are free elections, and the first step toward that would be a constitutional amendment under which I can be a candidate [for president] and others as well."

Hosni Mubarak, 81, the Egyptian president, will complete his fifth term in office next year and his son, Gamal, is often cited as his potential successor. The current constitution effectively bars an ElBaradei candidacy. It requires candidates to have been a leading member of a party, for at least one year, and the party must have been in existence for at least five years. Such is not the case with Mr ElBaradei.

And for him to run as an independent, he would have to be endorsed by at least 250 elected officials, including 65 members of the National Assembly, 25 members of the Consultative Council (senate) and 10 members of municipal councils. All those bodies are dominated by Mr Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party. nmagd@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National