Egypt's El Baradei to president: 3 things we need before we can talk


Former Egyptian UN nuclear watchdog chief and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei (C), with a national flag around his shoulders, joins thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir square on November 25, 2011 to call on the ruling military to hand power to a national salvation government.



CAIRO, Egypt — Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei said Monday that President Mohamed Morsi must do three things before negotiations can begin between the two sides, according to Egypt's Ahram Online.

El Baradei said Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed president whose tenure has been heavily criticized by the opposition for alleged rights abuses and perceived economic failures, must establish a "neutral and credible" government, appoint an independent prosecutor-general and create a new group to handle the country's elections law, said Ahram Online

"We will begin a dialogue if three conditions are met," he said, reported Reuters

El Baradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency now with the progressive National Salvation Front umbrella opposition group, laid out the conditions during a speech at an economic conference, said Reuters. Egypt is currently in the throes of delicate discussions with the International Monetary Fund over aid as its economy continues to stagnate. 

"We are waiting for President Morsi to understand that time is not on his side, nor on Egypt's side," said El Baradei, who is also the founder of the Constitution Party, according to Reuters.

El Baradei’s conditions for dialogue do not break significantly from previous demands for the Morsi-led government put forth by the opposition.

Despite rumors the president is unhappy with the performance of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, it is unlikely Morsi will form a new government that would both sideline figures from his Brotherhood-led party and placate the opposition.

In addition, El Baradei’s request that Morsi appoint an independent prosecutor-general is also likely to fall on deaf ears.

A Cairo administrative court recently ruled that Morsi’s appointment of the current prosecutor-general was illegal, but his administration has so far refused to respond to the ruling and reinstall the previous attorney-general. Rights groups have criticized the current public prosecutor for launching targeted and politicized investigations against Morsi’s appointments.

The only opposition demand that appears to be making traction is the request to review the controversial constitution that was hastily passed amid political unrest and polarization last December.

According to the state-run news agency, MENA, Morsi’s government today asked a panel of independent legal experts to propose amendments to the document.

The opposition has called for a review of articles that curb political expression and rights for women and minorities. It was unclear which articles would be reviewed, and the prime minister said they would not be binding on any new parliament, according to Reuters.

International leaders have also pressured Morsi, who was elected in June 2012, to reconcile with the opposition in order to address pressing national issues. 

Erin Cunningham contributed to this report from Cairo.