Egyptians welcome ElBaradei home

Hundreds greet former UN nuclear watchdog chief at Cairo airport upon his return.

    ElBaradei, the former IAEA chief, is one of the best known Egyptians internationally [EPA] 

    Two members of opposition group the April 6 Movement have already been arrested for organising a reception for ElBaradei and distributing leaflets encouraging people to attend, Egyptian media reported.

    Amr El-Kahky, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo, said his return has caused a political stir in Egypt.

    "Hundreds of people gathered at the airport ... ElBaradei insisted on acknowledging his supporters but he couldn't make it through the crowds.

    "Officials were playing down ElBaradei's arrival ... whether his return will be like a snowball or the regime will stay as it is, that's yet to be seen," he said.

    Election hopes

    Since November, ElBaradei has in several newspaper interviews pointedly refused to rule out standing in next year's presidential election as a challenger to Hosni Mubarak, the incumbent.

    in depth

      Profile: Mohamed ElBaradei
      Video: Egypt welcomes ElBaradei home

    But ElBaradei has made his candidacy conditional on the unlikely prospect of wide-ranging institutional and political reforms to ensure a clean election.

    Electoral law also requires him to be a member of an authorised political party, a condition that he does not currently fulfil.

    Abdullah al-Ashaal, a former Egyptian diplomat who lectures in political science at the American University in Cairo, said ElBaradei's popularity was a "test" for Mubarak.

    "It is the biggest threat to President Mubarak since he came to power ... ElBaradei has come to be a symbol now, a symbol to challenge that dinosaur," he told Al Jazeera.

    "I think that this will be very interesting to see how much ElBaradei can do with all the Egyptian people around him ... This is a test for the regime."

    Online support

    Mubarak, who has ruled for three decades, has not said if he plans to run in 2011 but most Egyptians speculate that if he bows out he will seek to hand power to his son Gamal.

    Both men deny any such plans.

    ElBaradei has found online the support of thousands of people who are tired of Mubarak's rule.

    AbdulRahman Yusuf, who runs a Facebook social networking site group called "ElBaradei for Presidency of Egypt 2011", said the group would work in the streets and over the internet to build backing for ElBaradei.

    "Our aim is to bring together activists on the ground who can galvanise a popular base through peaceful means," he said.

    "We do not seek to whip up a frenzy. We seek amendments to the constitution."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Remembering Chernobyl

    Remembering Chernobyl

    The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion remains as politicised as ever, 28 years on.