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Former U.N. nuclear watchdog and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said Saturday he is dropping out of Egypt’s presidential race because there’s no real democracy in the country. ElBaradei said that “the previous regime” is still running the country, noting that the military generals who have been in control ever since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak have failed to bring about “a real democratic system.”
“My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a real democratic system,” he said. ElBaradei wasn’t considered a top contender for the post as many in Egypt had doubts about the years he spend abroad so his withdrawal will not really alter the race. Still, “his global stature makes his pullout a symbolic blow to the military leadership and its often faltering stewardship of the country’s transition to democracy,” notes the Wall Street Journal.
The New York Times points out that his withdrawal from the race could lead to increased support for the protest rallies planned for later this month to commemorate the anniversary of the uprising that led to Mubarak’s downfall.
While praising those who stood up against Mubarak, ElBaradai said that “the former regime did not fall,” adding that the country’s military leaders “are still treading old waters, as if the revolution did not take place.” Although the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has vowed to turn power over to civilian rule when a president is elected, “there is widespread belief that the military wants to maintain a political role in the country's future,” writes Al-Jazeera.