Amid doubts over Mohamed ElBaradei’s appointment as Egypt’s new Prime Minister, the pro-reform leader has defended the ouster of Mohammed Morsy by the Army, saying it was necessary to avert a civil war as the Islamist leader had declared himself a “pharaoh” and messed up matters.
Mr. ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is the favourite to lead a transitional government in Egypt after Mr. Morsy, the country’s first democratically elected President, was removed from office by the powerful military last week.
Mr. ElBaradei, 71, is coordinator of the main alliance of liberal and left-wing parties and youth groups, known as the National Salvation Front, formed late last year after Mr. Morsy granted himself sweeping powers in a constitutional declaration.
Defending the Army’s intervention, Mr. ElBaradei said, “Either we risk a civil war or ... take extra constitutional measures to ensure that we keep the country together.”
“This is a recall, and it is nothing novel,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told CNN.
“It is a painful measure, nobody wanted that,” he said.
“But Mr. Morsy unfortunately undermined his own legitimacy by declaring himself a few months ago as a pharaoh and then we got into a fist fight, and not a democratic process.”
“The other option was civil war,” he said. “We were between a rock and a hard place,” he told the BBC.
He described the manner of Mr. Morsy’s removal as “a hiccup.”
“Unfortunately we had to go though this hiccup, but I am very determined that hopefully we’ll get it right,” he said.
“We cannot afford Egypt to fail,” Mr. ElBaradei said. “Nobody can afford Egypt to fail.”
The fact that Egypt is in this situation, the former diplomat said, is difficult, especially given the high hopes many in the North African nation had following Mr. Mubarak’s exit.
The election that Mr. Morsy won in 2012 was “fairly free,” Mr. ElBaradei acknowledged.
“Then, unfortunately, the President messed up,” he said.
“When you end up with 20 million people in the street, of the state of mind that he needs to go and he needs to go now, it’s a sad state.”
He was of the view that Mr. Morsy’s departure will serve as a “reset,” so Egypt can start over in forming a constitution and putting together an inclusive government.
That government should include members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation that was banned under Mubarak but has become Egypt’s most powerful political force, according to Mr. ElBaradei.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s new President says Mr. Elbaradei has not yet been appointed as interim Prime Minister despite earlier reports.
A spokesman for interim President Adly Mansour said consultations were continuing. Officials had earlier named Mr. ElBaradei for the post.