The withdrawal of former International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei from Egyptian presidential elections was met with a mixture of indignation and disappointment on the part of politicians and intellectuals in the country, all of whom agreed that the prominent reformer should have continued.
ElBaradei’s decision to withdraw is an abandonment of the fight for democracy, said judge Zakaria Abdul Aziz, former head of the Court of Cessation.
“He withdrew because he believes the former regime is not really toppled, but that is exactly why he should have continued,” he said.
Abdul Aziz argued that rights and freedoms have to be fought for and that the struggle is about running in presidential elections in the absence of democracy in order to bring about this democracy.
“That is why I would like to see dozens of people stand in presidential elections because this is how more choices become available and this is how democracy can be eventually reached.”
When asked if ElBaradei’s withdrawal was meant to ignite another uprising in the first anniversary of the January 25 Revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Abdul Aziz said he couldn’t tell, yet stressed that he is all for a second revolution.
“The revolution is still incomplete and I support taking to the streets again on January 25 to demand the achievement of the revolution’s goals.”
Lawyer and political activist Essam al-Eslambolli agreed with Abdul Aziz as far as ElBaradei’s reason for withdrawal being the justification of his continuation is concerned.
“If the regime was not toppled, then this is why he had to stay. Many people were counting on him to effect the change the revolution demanded and to really oust the former regime,” he said.
It is possible, Eslambolli added, that that there are undisclosed reasons that drove ElBaradei to make such a decision.
“May be he wanted to give a chance to another candidate whom he supports.”
Regarding attributing ElBaradei’s withdrawal to his conviction that he would not have made it had he taken part in the elections, Eslambolli said that nothing is certain when it comes to elections.
“No candidate can be sure he is going to win, so this is not a reason to withdraw.”
Journalist and editor-in-chief of the Egyptian literary and political magazine Weghat Nazar Ayman al-Sayyad argued that regardless of whether or not ElBaradei was justified in his decision, his role in the Egyptian revolution will remain indisputable.
“Not one objective person can deny the role ElBaradei played in sending ripples across stagnant waters in the Egyptian scene and in paving the way for the Egyptian revolution,” he said.
Sayyad added that many Egyptian intellectuals see the logic behind ElBaradei’s withdrawal and realize that he is right about the fact that the regime was not really toppled.
“The confusion and vagueness characterizing the Egyptian scene at the moment are a good reason for him to withdraw.”
Sayyad did not agree with theories about ElBaradei’s withdrawal aiming at igniting a second revolution.
“I believe that he withdrew for the reasons he mentioned and that what will happen on January 25, 2012 is not a second revolution, but a continuation of the first one. History proves that revolutions take years to be completed.”
Ossama Moussa, member of the upper committee of the post-revolution al-Adl (Justice) Party said he was shocked to hear the news of ElBaradei’s withdrawal.
“He is one of the main pillars of the Egyptian revolution and his withdrawal made lots of people lose hope in effecting the change they wanted to see in the regime,” he said.
Despite the disappointment ElBaradei’s decision triggered among a large portion of Egyptian intellectuals and politicians, it did not really come as a surprise, said Magdi al-Gallad, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian daily independent al-Masry al-Youm.
“After the marginalization of the revolutionary youths and the bargains several political powers struck together, it was normal that he comes up with such a decision,” he told Al Arabiya.
For Emad al-Din Hussien, editorial manager of the daily independent al-Shorouk, ElBaradei’s withdrawal is not just about presidential elections.
“His withdrawal brings to the forefront a much bigger issue which is the necessity of having a real and effective political system,” he told Al Arabiya.
Several members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) called upon ElBaradei to reconsider his decision on the grounds that Egypt is badly in need of all those who can serve it.
“I was shocked by his decision and I hope he can think again because Egypt needs him in the coming stage,” Mohamed al-Beltagi, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party, the MB’s political wing, told Al Arabiya.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)