This Article is From Feb 07, 2011

Will ElBaradei fill power vacuum in Egypt?

Cairo: With the clamour for Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to quit just not dying down, who are the possible contenders?

When asked who should come next, no one in Cairo really has a clear answer, perhaps because there's no one person leading the crowds.

Trying to fill that vacuum is Mohammed El Baradei, Nobel laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who is now a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy protests in Egypt and a possible presidential candidate come September.

As Baradei joined in the demonstrations, several groups of protesters authorised him to negotiate on their behalf. He's called for a transitional government headed by a Presidential council that includes a military representative.

"As I said it's not a question of person. It's a question of reform, it's a question of (the) future of a country," Baradei said.

"Everybody is worried. If you look to the television today, for 10 days we see something called 'Egypt in crisis'. Well we need to put an end to that," he added.

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Given the space Baradei is quickly occupying, groups like the religious Muslim Brotherhood - that has fielded candidates as independents so far - have come out to back him.

Religious parties are banned from political activity in Egypt, but the Brotherhood has much support. And as it works through the crowds, supplying food, water, and medical assistance during the past week's violence, there are concerns that its support base will grow further once a transitional government steps in.

The Brotherhood has an Islamic agenda, but says it has no intention of pursuing it politically unless it's what the people of Egypt ask for. Their priority for the moment, like everyone else, is is to fight for democracy.

For now, in spite of fears of radical Islamist parties replacing Mubarak, the US that has pushed Mubarak to listen to his people, end the violence and ensure a peaceful transition has welcomed the Brotherhood's involvement in political negotiations.