Prominent Egyptian reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei is sworn in as Egypt`s new premier following military`s removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
A presidential source said on Saturday evening that Mohamed ElBaradei, the general coordinator of the National Salvation Front, has already been assigned the post of prime minister. “He accepted and will be shortly sworn in,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online.
According to an official source, the choice of ElBaradei came after the military failed to convince Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez to accept the job. Farouk El-Oqda, Ramez` predecessor, also declined the job.
A graduate of the faculty of law at Cairo University, ElBaradei joined the Foreign Service before he launched his international career.
In 2009, ElBaradei who was just finishing his post as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, offered a new addition to the small number of voices calling for an end to the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was later ousted by the 25 January Revolution.
Upon his arrival in Egypt, ElBaradei called on Egyptians to sign petitions to end Mubarak’s rule and foil a scheme to pass power to Mubarak’s son, Gamal.
His call was supported by rank-and-file Egyptians as by top intellectuals. Following the removal of Mubarak, ElBaradei was called on by his supporters to run for president, but declined, saying he did not want to join the political race, especially in the absence of a clear constitution.
Nobel peace prize laureate ElBaradei had been a leading opposition figure since the 2011 revolution, having been one of the most prominent figures to foresee and call for the uprising that put an end to Mubarak`s thirty-year rule.
He initially had the intention to run in last year`s presidential elections, but backtracked on his decision months ahead of the polls saying there were no guarantees that elections would be fair.
During the transitional period under interim military rule, ElBaradei grew critical of the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, which in turn had accused him of being an agent of the US.
ElBaradei has also been a staunch critic of Morsi and the Brotherhood and supported the elected president`s ouster, having spoken as an opposition representative after Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced Morsi`s removal and the implementation of an emergency "roadmap."
Last November, together with former presidential runners Hamdin Sabbahi and Amr Moussa, ElBaradei and other political figures started the National Salvation Front, a loose gathering of opposition to Morsi, Egypt`s first-ever freely elected president and leading Muslim Brotherhood member.
A week before the 30 June demonstrations and the military intervention that brought about Morsi`s ouster, ElBaradei called on Morsi to step down. On Wednesday evening, along with army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and other civil, political and religious leaders, ElBaradei told the nation that Morsi`s ouster wasn`t a military coup but a power people ouster.
The appointment of ElBaradei, who has stressed that he would not run in upcoming presidential elections, is likely to infuriate Islamist supporters of Morsi, who have been gathering across the nation in the hundreds of thousands calling for his reinstatement.
"We welcome the candidacy of Dr. ElBaradei. Already we insisted on his candidacy because we wanted a political figure that has freedom to choose ministers and we are confident that Dr. ElBaradei will not bow to any pressures," said Ahmed Emam, a leading member of the Strong Egypt Party.
"Dr. ElBaradei does not support the exclusion of any political force or party in Egypt," said Emam. "We need someone who believes in democracy."
Strong Egypt leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh has already attended a meeting with interim president Adly Mansour.
Rebel campaign co-founder Mahmoud Badr also revealed on his official Twitter account that the revolutionary youth movement had called for ElBaradei by name.
The Salafist Nour Party, for its part, reportedly rejected ElBaradei`s candidacy. Nour spokesman Ashraf Thabet told Ahram Online that it would soon issue a press statement on the issue.
It is not clear how the Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which had earlier supported ElBaradei`s call for reform, will accept the appointment of an anti-Morsi opposition figure as the first prime minister after Morsi`s ouster.
At a massive sit-in in Cairo`s Nasr City district, Morsi supporters chanted "illegitimate," in reference to ElBaradei`s appointment.
ElBaradei is well accepted in most Western quarters, especially in the US. He also has good relations with the Arab world and Africa.
While the economy remains a serious challenge for ElBaradei, there are other more daunting challenges, especially national reconciliation and transitional justice.
He will be sworn in as premier following the formation of a new cabinet.
[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]