By Ray Fleming

When writing in this space in early-2011 about the prospects for Egypt's governance after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak I mentioned the name of Mohamed ElBaradei three or four times as being the kind of person the country needed to establish stability and lead it into a new constitution and elections. This week ElBaradei has been appointed Vice President in the interim government which has the task of establishing stability, preparing a revised constitution and holding elections. During the past two years he has kept relatively quiet while putting together the National Salvation Front made up of 35 political parties, mainly secular liberals, leftists, moderate Sunnis and Coptic Christians. Last week it was reported that he had been named prime minister but apparently the Nour Party, the only Islamists in the interim coalition, successfully objected to him as a secularist and the former finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi became prime minister instead.

This sequence of events provides a glimpse of just how difficult it is to reconcile the differing and conflicting views of the various parties in Egypt especially when religious issues are involved. The role of Vice-President in current circumstances could be important but ElBaradei would probably have made a greater impact as prime minister. He had a distinguished international career as a diplomat, UN administrator and as Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency for many years.

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