The reasons for his widespread support are many, and the Nobel Peace Prize winner's credentials are impressive. The Egyptian expatriate was under self-imposed exile from Egypt until he returned to Cairo on Jan. 27. He is currently being detained by Egyptian authorities.
As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ElBaradei dedicated his career to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 2005, but chose not to run for a fourth term at the post in 2008.
From his Nobel Prize Biography:
During his career as diplomat, international civil servant and scholar, Dr. ElBaradei has become closely familiar with the work and processes of international organizations, particularly in the fields of international peace and security and international development. He has lectured widely in the fields of international law, international organizations, arms control and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and is the author of various articles and books on these subjects. He belongs to a number of professional associations, including the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law.
ElBaradei's educational credentials combine Western and Middle Eastern schooling. He received a Bachelor's degree in Law in 1962 at the University of Cairo, and a Doctorate in International Law at the New York University School of Law in 1974. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the NYU School of Law from 1981 to 1987, according to his Nobel biography.
But why are Egyptians calling on him specifically to lead them towards democracy?
Speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in late April 2010, ElBaradei joked that he was "looking for a job" and iexpressed interest in becoming "agent of change and an advocate for democracy" in Egyptian politics. However, at the time, he made it clear that his wife wasn't as enthusiastic about the idea.
But ElBaradei seems ready to lead now.
Before leaving Vienna for Cairo, ElBaradei told reporters that "If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down," the BBC says.
He also said, according to the Associated Press, that it is time "to see a new regime and to see a new Egypt through peaceful transition.''
Groups in opposition to the current leadership have been discussing ElBaradei as a potential successor to President Mubarak since as far back as 2009.
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