Skip to main content

ElBaradei: Morsy's ouster was needed so Egypt cannot 'fail'

By Greg Botelho and Becky Anderson, CNN
July 8, 2013 -- Updated 1810 GMT (0210 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mohamed ElBaradei calls President Morsy's ouster "a recall"
  • He said the military risked civil war if it didn't do what it did
  • Muslim Brotherhood has a place in Egypt going forward, he says
  • "We cannot afford Egypt to fail," says the Nobel Peace Prize winner

Cairo (CNN) -- Prominent Egyptian reformist Mohamed ElBaradei called the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsy the right thing for the country, even as he said all parties -- including Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood -- should be part of Egypt's future.

"We cannot afford Egypt to fail," ElBaradei told CNN on Thursday. "Nobody can afford Egypt to fail."

Six years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, ElBaradei was among those who pushed successfully for the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011.

Mohamed ElBaradei: Fast Facts

Morsy won that race, but since taking office he hasn't won over liberals, reformists and others such as ElBaradei who criticized him for not governing for all Egyptians, failing to bolster a faltering economy and promoting a constitution and social policies that some call too restrictive.

Pro-Morsy protesters hit with tear gas
What's next for Egypt?
ElBaradei: We need to work together
Muslim Brotherhood remains defiant

That sentiment boiled over recently in a massive nationwide rally, followed by the military's demand that Morsy accede to some of the opposition's demands. He did not, and troops subsequently placed him under house arrest and appointed an interim successor.

ElBaradei, considered to the be leader of the opposition, insists the military's move is not a coup.

"Either we risk a civil war or ... take extra constitutional measures to ensure that we keep the country together," he said, explaining the military's conundrum. "This is a recall, and it is nothing novel."

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 Mubarak's exit.

Egypt: The most populous country in the Arab world

The election that Morsy won was "fairly free," ElBaradei acknowledged.

"Then, unfortunately, the president messed up," he told CNN. "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."

The diplomat said 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 organization that was banned under Mubarak but has become Egypt's most powerful political force, according to ElBaradei. He said he assumes Morsy could even run again for president, "though I don't think he would."

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

"I would hope qualified people from the Brotherhood, from the Salafists should be part of this government," ElBaradei said. "We need everybody need to be part of the political process. We need a cohesive society that is tolerant, that respects each others' differences."

The Muslim Brotherhood propelled Morsy into office, although he resigned as leader of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, after becoming president.

While ElBaradei stated flatly that he personally isn't interested in becoming president, he said he is "deeply concerned" about Egypt and willing to do what he can to help steer it to a brighter future

Opinion: Will the Muslim Brotherhood survive?

Egyptians have limited patience after years of political and economic turmoil, he said.

"My fears are that we do not deliver," ElBaradei said. "My fear is that the Brotherhood will fear that they are excluded. We need a quick delivery. And ... we need to show the people that we are really focusing on their basic needs."

CNN's Becky Anderson reported from Cairo, and Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Egypt
Visit CNN Arabic for full election news and updates in Arabic.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
CNN's Reza Sayah explains Egypt's presidential election.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Minute changes by Egypt's next leader may not be sufficient to bring genuine stability, writes H.A. Hellyer.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0359 GMT (1159 HKT)
Supporters of Egyptian leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi (portrait) attend a campaign meeting in Cairo.
Both presidential candidates have made lofty promises. But has either offered specifics on how the economy?
June 8, 2014 -- Updated 0806 GMT (1606 HKT)
CNN's Reza Sayah profiles the leading contender in Egypt's presidential election, ex army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0809 GMT (1609 HKT)
Hamdeen Sabahi is considered a heavy underdog in the race for Egypt's presidency, but he's sure he's going to win.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
A court in Cairo sentences ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison for embezzlement.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
An Egyptian man waits for tourists to take them on camel rides at the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on February 14, 2011.
Instead of focusing on antiquities, Egypt's new "We miss you" video features dancers, malls and ritzy hotels.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Former Arab League head Amre Moussa says presidential favorite Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is right to stand up to "terrorists."
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Can music heal the rift of revolution and conflict in Egypt? CNN's Reza Sayah meets the Egyptian band trying.
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
Egypt's former military chief doesn't mince words when he describes what would happen if he wins the presidency.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
Are threats of sexual violence an everyday reality for women in Cairo?
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast and what challenges await?
ADVERTISEMENT