Ex-IAEA chief El Baradei to represent unified opposition in talks with Mubarak regime

Cairo, Jan.31 (ANI): Former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed El Mubarak would represent a loosely unified opposition in talks with the military-backed regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

Though lacking deep support on his own, Dr. El Baradei, a Nobel laureate and diplomat, has emerged as the consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition, the New York Times reports.

In scenes as tumultuous as any since the uprising began, Dr. El Baradei defied a government curfew and joined thousands of protesters in Liberation Square, a downtown landmark that has become the epicenter of the uprising.

"Today, we are proud of Egyptians," Dr. El Baradei told the crowd Sunday.

"We have restored our rights, restored our freedom, and what we have begun cannot be reversed," he said.

Dr. ElBaradei declared it a "new era," and as night fell there were few in Egypt who seemed to disagree.

Dr. El Baradei also criticized the Obama administration, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the message via Sunday news programs in Washington that Mubarak should create an "orderly transition" to a more politically open Egypt, while she refrained from calling on him to resign.

That approach, Dr. El Baradei said, was "a failed policy" eroding American credibility.

"It's better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, it's time for you to go," Dr. El Baradei said.

Meanwhile, the military, Egypt's most powerful institution and one embedded deeply in all aspects of life here, reinforced parts of Cairo on Sunday.

It gathered as many as 100 tanks and armored carriers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the site of President Anwar el-Sadat's assassination in 1981, which brought Mubarak to power.

The Interior Ministry announced it would again deploy once-ubiquitous police forces - despised by many as the symbol of the daily humiliations of Mubarak's government - across the country, except in Liberation Square.

In a collapse of authority, the police withdrew from major cities on Saturday, giving free rein to gangs that stole and burned cars, looted shops and ransacked a fashionable mall, where dismembered mannequins for conservative Islamic dress were strewn over broken glass and puddles of water.

Many have darkly suggested that the government was behind the collapse of authority as a way to justify a crackdown or discredit protesters' calls for change.

The United States said it was organizing flights to evacuate its citizens on Monday, and the American Embassy urged all Americans to "consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so," in a statement that underlined a deep sense of pessimism among Egypt's allies over Mubarak's fate.

Turkey, a major power in the region, said it was sending three flights to evacuate 750 of its citizens from Cairo and Alexandria. (ANI)

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