CAIRO (Reuters) - Mohamed ElBaradei and other prominent Egyptians on Saturday launched a party which he said would one day govern the country, offering a new choice to voters seeking alternatives to Islamist parties that now dominate parliament.
Though ElBaradei pulled out of the race for Egyptian presidency in January, his role in the new Dustour Party shows the Nobel Peace Prize winner and political liberal still aims to play a leading role in the future of the country of 80 million.
“I am confident that this party will be the one that governs Egypt in the future,” said ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog.
“We will not see results tomorrow or the day after. It could take us months or up to a year, and we could become the majority,” he added at a Cairo news conference alongside other founding members of the party including novelist Alaa Al Aswany.
ElBaradei has been a prominent figure in the Egyptian reform movement since he returned to Egypt in 2010 and challenged Mubarak’s rule by calling for political reform. He has been consistently critical of the army council ruling Egypt since Mubarak was toppled by mass protests in February, 2011.
His supporters viewed him as the man to replace Mubarak as president but he was criticised for failing to build grass-roots support. His withdrawal from the presidential race was seen in large part as an admission that he could not win.
ElBaradei justified the decision by saying he could not take part in an election unless it was held within a real democratic system.
The presidential election is scheduled to go ahead on May 23 and 24 with a run-off between the top two candidates in June.
The front-runners include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Mohamed Mursi, a politician from the Muslim Brotherhood, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a former member of the Islamist group.
The Brotherhood and more hardline Islamist parties dominated legislative elections - Egypt’s most democratic in six decades.
Parties with leftist or liberal ideologies meanwhile struggled to make headway in a country where politics was mostly crushed for decades.
Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science, said the new party had come too late. “It would have been useful to establish this party before legislative elections,” he said.
“We have to wait to see what impact this party will have on the Egyptian political scene, after most of the political trends have established their own parties,” he added.
ElBaradei described the party’s ideology as one of “science, competence and real democracy”. “This is our solution for launching the renaissance of Egypt,” he said.