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ElBaradei ends Egyptian presidential run

By Ian Lee, For CNN
updated 12:20 PM EST, Sat January 14, 2012
Mohamed ElBaradei visits a mosque in his home town of Ibyar on Friday September 23 as part of his campaign to be Egyptian president.
Mohamed ElBaradei visits a mosque in his home town of Ibyar on Friday September 23 as part of his campaign to be Egyptian president.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • ElBaradei says there is not a true democracy in the political system
  • He says the Egypt's youth will rebuild the country
  • Egypt presidential frontrunner ends campaign
  • He had won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptian reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei on Saturday ended his bid for president after criticizing the interim military government for its failure to bring about "a real democratic system."

The Nobel laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency accused the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of mismanaging the interim period that followed the January 25th revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

The 69-year-old says he will continue to work with the youth to help fulfill the nation's hope of freedom, human dignity and social justice.

"Unfortunately, the transition period has been handled in the worst way ever," he said in a video posted his YouTube channel. "We haven't seen any changes in the state media, the state media is like it was before, a mouthpiece for the ruling regime and the judicial system has a lot of flaws and needs cleansing."

ElBaradei also threw harsh criticism at the army's dealing with protesters since they took over.

"And what is worse is how we have seen, young men being treated, people being killed and tortured and when we hear about virginity tests. These are shameful things, really shameful," he said.

ElBaradei was at one point considered a frontrunner in the race, but recent victories in local elections by Islamist groups tested the viability of his candidacy.

This announcement comes as Egypt prepares for the anniversary of last year's revolution. A power struggle has developed between the newly elected parliament dominated by Islamists and the ruling generals.

Many, including ElBaradei, fear that the military will not give up power despite the military council saying that they will transfer it after the presidential election.

According to his campaign, ElBaradei sees chaos and mismanagement in the interim military government, which "pushes the nation away from the goals of the revolution."

Despite being a populist, ElBaradei didn't have much of a chance to actually win the presidency, said the prominent Egyptian political analyst and journalist Hisham Kassem.

"I always thought ElBaradei was too ethical for politics," he says. "He is someone who has played a major role in bringing about the uprising but I wasn't sure he would have made it as president."

One of ElBaradei's political rivals in the presidential race, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, said he regretted ElBaradei's decision.

Moussa's campaign told CNN that the candidate commended the role ElBaradei played in the changes Egypt has seen in past months, and hopes that he will continue his efforts to rebuild the country.

Other presidential candidates will want to lure ElBaradei's supporters, but Kassem doesn't believe a single candidate will benefit.

"I think the votes will get scattered because it is difficult to see a runner-up for ElBaradei politically," he said. "ElBaradei being secular could help Amr Moussa but his ties to the old regime will turn many off to him as being a candidate."

Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report for CNN.

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