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ElBaradei proposes national unity government in Egypt

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WASHINGTON — Leading Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei proposed Thursday that a three-person national unity government succeed President Hosni Mubarak and his deputy, and steer Egypt to democracy.

In an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine, ElBaradei said the US-backed transition process led by Vice President Omar Suleiman will fail to take the country to democracy unless “we keep kicking their behinds.”

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He added: “I think the whole process is a faulty process. You don’t get the fox to be in charge of the chicken coop.”

ElBaradei was interviewed in his Cairo home before Mubarak delivered a televised speech announcing a transfer of some powers to Suleiman, but did not step down, sparking an angry reaction from demonstrators massed in Tahrir Square.

ElBaradei recalled that Suleiman, whom Mubarak recently named his first ever vice president, said Egypt does not have the “culture” of democracy.

“No, I don’t have any confidence” in Suleiman, said ElBaradei.

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The military leaders who have practiced dictatorship for decades “don’t understand, let alone are willing to move Egypt into democracy, unless we keep kicking their behinds,” he said.

ElBaradei said he urges young Egyptians, whom he says are the only ones who can bring change because they have “no hidden agenda,” to maintain their mass protests until they satisfy their demands — above all that Mubarak leave.

He implied Suleiman also leave when he said “there is no credibility in either Mubarak or Suleiman or anybody who is associated with that regime.”

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His advice to the young people is to take charge of the “transitional period of a year,” he said.

“And I am suggesting a presidential council of three people, a transitional government of national salvation, national unity under a caretaker government of people who have sterling reputations, have experience,” he said.

The national unity government would “then prepare the country for free and fair elections,” he added.

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He called for abolishing the current constitution and replacing it with a new one “which is really democratic, with a president who has checks and balances” on him.

He also pushed for abolishing the “rigged” parliament and replacing it with one that “has the power of the purse and oversight” as well as establishing an independent judiciary.

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), outlined a similar political transition in an interview with Austria’s die Presse daily.

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The dissident did not make clear his own political ambitions except to say that he has always described himself as “an agent for change” rather than a grassroots organizer.

“But I never said I’m not a politician,” he said.

He said that in the year he has been back in Egypt he has tried to lift the hopes of young Egyptians with the promise of democracy.

“My message to them is to try to make them feel that they are no different from other people, that they have all the tools, all the talents,” he said.

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He tells them that “it’s only through democracy we will be able to change this whole system.”

He expressed fears that the regime risked making Egyptians more radical.

“If you try to crush them, you will then get into a bloody revolution,” he warned.


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US to send top delegation to Saudi event: media

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and presidential adviser Jared Kushner will lead an American delegation to Saudi Arabia's annual financial conference, US media reported Tuesday, after widespread boycotts of last year's event in protest at the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi reporter Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was strangled and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Dozens of top global officials and business leaders boycotted last year's Future Investment Initiative (FII), a lavish event dubbed "Davos in the desert", as international outrage over Khashoggi's killing peaked.

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Chris the sheep, famed for record-breaking fleece, dies

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An Australian sheep that entered the Guinness World Records after being found with an enormously overgrown fleece has died, its carers announced.

Chris the merino sheep made global headlines after being found wandering alone outside Australia's capital Canberra with masses of wool sagging from its frame in 2015.

A champion shearer was brought in to shave off the fleece, a life-saving intervention for the sheep.

They quickly entered the record books for the largest fleece removed in a single sitting, with the wool weighing in at 41.1 kilograms (91 pounds).

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As Modi hobnobs with Kissinger and other war criminals, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal criticize US support for Indian regime

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 "At what point do we no longer share values with India? Are we waiting for the Muslims in Assam to be put in those camps?"

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rubbed shoulders with Henry Kissinger and other former world leaders in India on Tuesday, Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar questioned State Department officials on U.S. support for the Modi regime during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Omar took particular aim at the Modi government's recent moves to strip Muslims in the country's northeast state of Assam and the building of camps in the region that critics of the Indian government fear may be used to house those decided as non-citizens by the regime.

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