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ElBaradei speaks up against Egypt’s rulers

Associated Press / October 17, 2011

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Egypt’s top reform leader criticized the country’s military rulers yesterday as having too much power and no experience governing, expressing the frustration of many, a week after more than 20 Christians were killed when the military broke up their protest in Cairo with force.

Mohamed ElBaradei also criticized Egyptian state TV’s role in the deadly clashes on Oct. 9, saying it lied and instigated violence.

“So far, the military council, and it had said that, doesn’t have the political experience but it has the authority with no experience. And we have a Cabinet that has the experience but no powers,’’ ElBaradei told a news conference. He proposed an alternative government with more authority as an immediate solution to the problem.

The violence last week was the worst since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. It stunned Egyptians and shook their confidence in the military council’s management of the country. Already critical of the council’s handling of the transitional period, prodemocracy activists are now calling for the council to step aside.

ElBaradei has been one of the most influential figures among the youth who rebelled against Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The 68-year-old former diplomat and former head of the UN nuclear watchdog remains a favorite presidential candidate for many who see him as a man with a vision and international experience to direct Egypt’s transition toward democracy.

Many, however, blame him for failing to capitalize on this support. ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has maintained a tight group of supporters and experts and unlike other presidential hopefuls, he has kept a low profile in the media and public protests or rallies.

ElBaradei said he is not going to blame one side or the other for last week’s clashes without a proper investigation. But he took issue with the military rulers’ reference to “hidden’’ or “foreign hands.’’ ElBaradei called for an independent investigation and appealed to the ruling council to hand over any suspects for prosecution in the civil justice system.

Yemen

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s embattled president, charged that foreign diplomats have been misled by the country’s opposition and are conveying false information about the situation in the country.

Saleh’s criticism came before a scheduled meeting this week at the UN Security Council to discuss a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and transfer of power. Saleh’s security forces opened fire on protesters yesterday, killing at least seven.

Over the past two days, government snipers killed 10 troops of General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected and joined protests months ago, Ahmar said in a statement. He said they were killed near his compound and while protecting protesters in the capital, Sana.

Addressing military officials, Saleh said the foreign ambassadors “move from one opposition to the other, collect information, and consider the information they get from the opposition as if they are the victim whom they should support.’’

Tunisia

More than 2,000 Tunisians marched in favor of a secular state that allows press freedom and other rights. The demonstration was a response to protests and violence by Islamist extremists.

Tensions are high ahead of an Oct. 23 vote to elect an assembly charged with writing a new constitution. The vote follows the uprising that ousted Tunisia’s autocratic leader in January and sparked the Arab Spring.

New ultraconservative groups of Muslims known as Salafists have attacked movie theaters and TV stations in recent days for showing material they say denigrates Islam.

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