ElBaradei: 'It's The Greatest Day Of My Life' : The Two-Way In an interview with NPR, the Nobel laureate said he never imagined he'd live long enough to see Egypt free.
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ElBaradei: 'It's The Greatest Day Of My Life'

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ElBaradei: 'It's The Greatest Day Of My Life'

ElBaradei: 'It's The Greatest Day Of My Life'

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Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed Elbaradei has been an advocate for democratic change in Egypt. Last month he returned to Cairo after several years abroad to help lead anti-government protesters in demanding change. He was at home when he heard the historic announcement that President Mubarak had finally stepped down. We reached Mohamed Elbaradei by phone shortly after he heard that news.

Dr. MOHAMED ELBARADEI (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate): It's the greatest day of my life. I couldn't have�imagined that I would live long enough to see Egypt emancipated from decades of repression. For the first day now, every Egyptian feels a sense of dignity, a sense of pride and sense of hope. And this is -it's unbelievable to tell you how the feelings - it's an electrified feeling in Egypt. Every Egyptian is a different Egyptian today. We have finally hope to catch up with the rest of the world, to turn our country where it deserves to be - a democracy and to also show justice.

SIEGEL: For now, Dr. Elbaradei, you're not a democracy, you have a military government. Do you have confidence that this is moving toward a democracy?

Dr. ELBARADEI: I have confidence. I am pretty confident and I have assurance that the army will reach out to the wide spectrum of the Egyptian society and we will have co-sharing of power with the army for a transitional period. I hope that this will be one year when we put all the guarantees for free and fair election and we will see.

But I was assured that the army will reach out to the Egyptian society and we have - always have confidence that the army will come when Egypt in a crisis and they have come absolutely at the right moment. So I look forward to me and all my colleagues to work with them and at the end of the day it's, we're all Egyptian and we need the best for our country.

SIEGEL: When you say you've been assured, who assured you of this?

Dr. ELBARADEI: Well, I asked different contacts in that - that the army is not really coming in to take power, but coming in to save the country and to move it into a democracy. And that's all I can say now.

SIEGEL: Now, you say that within a year you think that Egyptians could have an election.

Dr. ELBARADEI: I think so. I think it would be a year - we need a year - we need to dismantle a whole dictatorial system and put in place guarantees, the laws, the regulations for the interim constitution to allow us to go for a fair election.

SIEGEL: But do I hear you saying that the September election is too soon to be able to have that, so that's not on?

Dr. ELBARADEI: Yes. September election is too soon. We don't even have the right to establish parties, Robert. So, we need to have the space, you know, to establish new parties, to engage with the people. You know, we wouldn't want to rush into elections. That's my personal view. We want to have all the guarantees before we get into a generally free election with all internsationsl observers and the right of Egyptian approach to vote. Everything which is common sense and now, like any democracy, to be in charge of our own destiny.

SIEGEL: How does Egypt go about restoring credibility to its national media, to its police? How does all this happen and how long will it take?

Dr. ELBARADEI: Well, that's what I said, we need at least a year of building the country from scratch. We need to build every institution. We need to change this country from a system based on a economic system based on one man running the country, to a country based on an institution. We need free press. We need to establish credibility with investors.

But we need to have a proper plan for meeting basic needs of the 42 percent of the Egyptian who live below poverty levels, the illiterate - the 30 percent who are illiterate. We have a lot of challenge. But at least today we put our - for the first day in our recent history, we are putting ourselves on the right track.

SIEGEL: Well, just before you go, I'd like you to relate to us what the moment was like for you when Omar Suleiman made that announcement.

Dr. ELBARADEI: Well, it reminded me of the moment I received the Nobel Peace Prize. But I tell you, even that moment today was more emotional. I've seen that saying, hereby we are emancipating 85 million people who had been repressed for decades.

SIEGEL: And are you now a candidate for president of Egypt?

Dr. ELBARADEI: I'm a candidate as one of the 85 million Egyptian to make sure that Egypt is on the right track at this stage.

SIEGEL: Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei, thank you very much for talking with us.

Dr. ELBARADEI: Thank you for having me.

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