CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei urged supporters to boycott next year’s presidential election after what he called a “farcical” parliamentary vote this month that quashed hopes for reform.
The former U.N. nuclear watchdog agency chief has said he would consider running for president if amendments were made to Egypt’s constitution that would make it easier for independent candidates to run.
No changes have been made, effectively ruling out his bid.
“I ask you to send a clear message to the system that we will not participate in this farce next year in the presidential election if changes to the constitution are not completed,” ElBaradei said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
ElBaradei’s entry into Egyptian politics initially excited the country’s fragmented opposition, but enthusiasm for his campaign has largely fizzled since then. Analysts say he has spent too much time abroad and not enough time on the street.
The National Democratic Party of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled for almost 30 years, cruised to an overwhelming victory in the second round of parliamentary elections this month after the two biggest opposition blocs withdrew.
Opposition leaders complained of fraud and dirty tricks in the first round. The NDP and the government said that voting was open and fair.
“The (parliamentary) elections might be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” ElBaradei said in the online video. “The whole world is going in one direction, and
we are going backward.”
Mubarak, 82, has not said if he will seek a sixth term next year. If he does not, many analysts assume he will try to lever his son Gamal into power, a plan both father and son deny.
Safwat el-Sherif, the NDP secretary-general, told Reuters last month the constitution would not be changed before the 2011 vote.
No date has been set for the presidential election, but it is expected in the second half of next year.