ElBaradei Calls Referendum Passage ‘Sad Day’ for Egypt
Mohamed ElBaradei at a press conference in Cairo in November. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.
Although official results still have not been announced, Nobel Peace prize winner and Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday conceded defeat in his country’s constitutional referendum.
“It is going to pass, but it’s really a sad day, in my view, for Egypt, because it is going to institutionalize instability,” ElBaradei told NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill in an interview airing Monday night on the NewsHour broadcast. “It is a very polarizing charter, and it defies a lot of the basic human values we live by, like freedom of religion, freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s unofficial tally indicated that 64 percent had approved the charter and an opposition tally had a similar result, according to Reuters.
The former International Atomic Energy Agency head and current National Salvation Front coordinator said that Egypt’s draft constitution endorsed by President Mohammed Morsi is “dangerous.” (Read an unofficial English translation of the draft constitution.)
“There’s a lot of serious apprehension about this document,” said ElBaradei. He added that many Egyptians “do not want the country moving into a theocratic state, or moving from one authoritarian system as of (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak to another authoritarian system wrapping itself around with a religious flavor.”
In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood said the constitution was a “historic opportunity to unite all national powers on the basis of mutual respect and honest dialogue for the sake of stabilizing the nation.”
On Monday, Egyptian judges were reviewing voter fraud and other polling abuse allegations. A date for the formal referendum results announcement has not been set. Once results are reported, a parliamentary election is expected to take place in two months.
ElBaradei blames the opposition’s relative newness for its lack of success at the polls since the toppling of Mubarak in 2011.
“We have been too fractured in the past. . . the (Muslim) Brotherhood has been on the ground for 80 years. They have been reaching out to the grassroots, providing social services. They have excellent connections with the “average Joe,” if you like.”
Upcoming Parliamentary Elections
Still, he expressed hope in future elections.
“If you compare the referendum a year-and-a-half ago — we got 23 percent. This time, we got 36 percent. We do hope that at the coming parliamentary election, we can get a majority,” said ElBaradei.
About 8 million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote — a turnout of about 30 percent — voted in the referendum, according to the Associated Press.
You can watch all of Gwen Ifill’s interview with Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday’s NewsHour.