Mohamed ElBaradei will not run for the Egyptian presidency.
The Nobel laureate and former nuclear weapons inspector, who emerged as a leading advocate of political reform in the post–Mubarak era, has pulled out of the race, stating that Egypt’s interim military rulers have not created a system conducive to free and fair elections.
“My conscience does not allow me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless there is real democracy,” said ElBaradei, who served as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 until 2009.
At a press conference on Saturday, the lawyer attacked the country’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), saying the rulers were “treading old waters, as if the revolution did not take place.”
Since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in February, the SCAF has been accused of countless human rights violations, particularly the violent putting down of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Led by Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, a man who served as Mubarak's defence minister for two decades, the SCAF maintains that it has no interest in government beyond the period of transition between military and civilian rule.
However, the violent clashes witnessed during the winter months and the regime’s repressive policies have led many Egyptians to believe that the military rulers will attempt to hold on to power, even after civilian elections.
"The randomness and the mismanagement of the transitional period are pushing the country away from the aims of the revolution," said ElBaradei, whose withdrawal is a blow for pro-Democracy movements in Egypt.
The forthcoming elections are now likely to be dominated by Islamists, with the Muslim Brotherhood already proving popular in parliamentary elections winning around 46% of the vote.
At the conference, ElBaradei paid tribute to the demonstrators instrumental in last year’s Arab Spring, while criticising the military leadership for not “protecting them”.
Despite his experience, ElBaradei was considered unlikely to win the presidential election later this year.