ElBaradei: 85M Egyptians Want Mubarak Gone

Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei talks to members of the media as he arrives at Cairo's airport in Egypt, from Austria, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011.
Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei talks to members of the media as he arrives at Cairo's airport in Egypt, from Austria, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. ElBaradei told reporters that 'the regime has not been listening.' He urged the Egyptian regime to exercise restraint with protesters, saying they have been met with a good deal of violence which could lead to an 'explosive situation.' (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
A leading Egyptian opposition figure said this morning that this week's uprising against Hosni Mubarak has been "many, many years in the making," and that the only option for his country is for the president to go.

"You can't run a country on repression, detention, torture, lack of economic opportunity for 30 years," Nobel laureate Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ElBaradei said that the unrest this week, in which dozens have been killed, should not have been a surprise.

"I have been warning of that for many years; many others have been seeing the painting on the wall. There was a tip point when things exploded," he told Bob Schieffer.

"If Washington didn't see that coming, then there was something wrong with their perception of what was going on in Egypt."

When asked what Mubarak's options are now, given his recent statements about implementing reforms (including the naming of a vice president, his first), ElBaradei said, "He absolutely has to leave, Bob. This is not me. This is 85 million Egyptians.

"The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years will be the one to implement democracy. I mean, this is really a farce. I mean people here could be poor, but they're intelligent. And the first thing which will calm the situation is for Mubarak to leave. Leave with some dignity. Otherwise I fear that things will get bloody.

"You have to stop the life support to the dictator. You have to root for the people. You are losing credibility by the day. On the one hand you are talking about democracy, rule of law, you know, human rights. On the other hand, you are lending support to a dictator who has continued to repress his people.

With police absent from the streets, fires burning and looting rampant, ElBaradei said, "It is a lawless country. I don't see how could you wait, you know, for Mr. Mubarak to leave."

He also said the situation is getting worse for Mubarak: "Yesterday it was the call for him to leave. Today it's a call for him to [be] put to trial.

He said it was urgent that Mubarak relinquish his hold on power immediately.

"What everybody is clear on right now, Bob, is that, you know, the first steps that need to be taken and taken urgently - first one, that he should leave today. The second step that we will have a national unity government or a national salvation government, a coalition government.

"I think once Mubarak is out, you will see that a lot of these demonstrations will go home. I can bet you that once he decides or announces or is forced to leave, all the demonstrations will go home. And then we are capable here, Bob, of then running a transitional, smooth transitional peace."

Also on the program, David Sanger of The New York Times said that the Obama administration has two fears with regard to Mubarak, which explains their reticence so far to publicly urge him to leave office: "They've walked right up to the edge but not quite said it," Sanger told Schieffer.

"The first fear is the power vacuum that will lead to more looting and chaos that you've seen. That could create an opening for the Muslim Brotherhood or another Islamist group to step in in some way.

"I think their second big fear is that if the United States appears to be the puppet master here and pushes Mubarak out, and things go wrong, it will have happened on President Obama's watch.

"If he emerges with a government that, for example, walked away from the peace agreement with Israel, I think that would be pretty problematic."

Dr. ElBaradei said he had little concern about the Muslim Brotherhood because they are not very popular in the country.

"But you could imagine in the coalition government they would have a voice," Sanger said. "I think the concern the U.S. has is making sure it isn't the dominant voice.

"It was interesting that you heard the Iranians this week support these protests because they think this is the chance to put an Islamic government in Cairo," Sanger added. "I don't think many others think that is likely."