x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Family says ElBaradei will fly into Egypt amid protests

Mohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and one of the most vocal critics of President Hosni Mubarak, says he has 'no choice' but to fly back.

CAIRO // The Egyptian opposition figure and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei is to return to Egypt on Thursday, his family says, amid the largest anti-government protests in three decades.

"He is coming back tonight (Thursday) from Vienna," his brother Ali ElBaradei said.

A spokesman for the pro-reform leader, Abdul Rahman Samir, told the Associated Press that Mr ElBaradei was expected to join protests planned for after Friday prayers across the country.

Mr ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has been one of the most vocal critics of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years.

In a comment on the American web-based news site The Daily Beast today, Mr Elbaradei said: "I am going back to Cairo, and back onto the streets because, really, there is no choice. You go out there with this massive number of people, and you hope things will not turn ugly, but so far, the regime does not seem to have gotten that message."

He recently told a German magazine that Egypt should be able to follow the lead set by the toppling of Tunisia's veteran president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

"If the Tunisians have done it, Egyptians should get there too," Mr ElBaradei said.

Six people have died in the protests against Mr Mubarak's rule and authorities have arrested at least 1,000 people.

Inspired by the ground-breaking "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, the protests in Egypt have sent shockwaves across the region and prompted Washington to prod its long-time ally on democratic reforms.

* Agence France-Presse