x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

ElBaradei says Egypt's government must compromise to get 'vital' IMF loan

Former United Nations nuclear watchdog chief and Nobel Peace Prize winner has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of excluding other political forces and hindering recovery.

Mohamed ElBaradei says a deeply polarised Egypt needs political consensus to tackle the  economic crisis.
Mohamed ElBaradei says a deeply polarised Egypt needs political consensus to tackle the economic crisis.
CAIRO // Egypt's government must seek political compromise to win broad support for a crucial IMF loan in order to revive the country's ailing economy, the senior opposition figure, Mohamed ElBaradei, said.

The former United Nations nuclear watchdog chief and Nobel Peace Prize winner accused the ruling Muslim Brotherhood of excluding other political forces from decision making, hindering recovery two years after an uprising ousted the former president, Hosni Mubarak.

Political upheaval and a decline in security have scared tourists and foreign investors from Egypt, draining the foreign currency reserves needed to fund imports of wheat and fuel for large subsidy programmes.

"Success or failure is now on the altar of political consensus, because if you don't have consensus, you don't have stability," Mr ElBaradei said.

"Without stability, you don't have an economy going on, and without an economy going on, you will end up with hungry, angry people."

The government is negotiating a US$4.8 billion (Dh17.63) loan from the International Monetary Fund, which Mr ElBaradei said would be vital to moving toward economic recovery.

"The economy is bust. All of the economic indicators. If you look at GDP, inflation, foreign reserves, current account, national debt, it's all in the red. It's a very precarious situation," he said.

"Everyone is waiting now for the IMF. That is clear."

There are no political conditions for an IMF deal, but the western governments that are the biggest shareholders in the lender say political consensus would make it easier to enact economic reforms that come with an IMF loan.

Mr ElBaradei is a senior member of the National Salvation Front, an umbrella group of liberal and leftist parties. The groupt threatened to boycott parliamentary elections that were scheduled to start this month but are now delayed until autumn.

The Front has set three conditions for ending a boycott of the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, and working for a national consensus: the appointment of a "neutral and credible" government capable of managing the country, an independent prosecutor general and a panel to draft a new elections law.