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EGYPT: Opposition leader urges U.S. to stop backing Mubarak

January 30, 2011 | 11:15 am

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the U.S. approach to fostering democracy in Egypt has not worked and Washington must move away from supporting longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt has a powerful military that has kept Mubarak's ruling party in place for more than 30 years. Its largest and best-organized opposition group is the banned Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group. In this environment, other opposition groups have not been able to develop, and that absence could make a democratic transition difficult.

ElBaradei called fears that Egypt may end up with a religious-based government "bogus" and said the U.S. has been incorrect in seeing the only two options as Mubarak's repressive regime or a fundamentalist Islamic state. Egyptians want democracy, he said, and it starts with Mubarak stepping down.

The United States is "losing credibility by the day" in calling for democracy in Egypt while continuing to support Mubarak, ElBaradei told CBS on Sunday. "On one hand you're talking about democracy, rule of law and human rights, and on the other hand you're lending still your support to a dictator that continues to oppress his people," he said.

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-- Paul Richter and Peter Nicholas in Washington

Photo: Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei speaks to protesters at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 30, 2011. Credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

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