ElBaradei: I will stand for presidency 'if the people want me' but won't negotiate with Mubarak's 'thugs'
MOHAMED ElBaradei, the leading Egyptian opposition figurehead, said for the first time yesterday that he was preparing a bid for the presidency and that the dramatic violence in central Cairo had shown he was right not to negotiate with Hosni Mubarak's regime.
Mr ElBaradei (right), who had previously proposed himself only as an interim leader, said that he would stand "if people want me to" in elections in September or before.
Speaking at his home in an exclusive villa on the outskirts of Cairo, Mr ElBaradei made clear the part he thought he would play in the continuing upheavals in Egypt. He said he wanted to set Egypt on track to a "new democratic future" as an agent of change and described Mr Mubarak's regime as "a bunch of thugs".
Mr ElBaradei has been criticised for "parachuting in" to a revolution already started and has faced demands to play a more active role in the protests.
He flew back to Egypt only last Thursday from Austria, where he was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna until last year.
Mr ElBaradei confirmed that he had held discussions with government figures on Tuesday but had refused to take part in any talks based on Mr Mubarak staying in office as president.
He held up as a reason yesterday's violence on Tahrir Square, as well as the government's response to protests last week.
"When you see some of the young demonstrators detained, 500 people detained still, some appearing as corpses at hospitals, how do you expect me to negotiate with a bunch of thugs?" he asked.
Mr Mubarak has accused opposition leaders of failing to act responsibly in their refusal to negotiate with him, a charge repeated by government ministers yesterday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)