Egyptian opposition figure criticizes Obama response: 'Let go of a dictator'

A leading Egyptian opposition figure criticized the response of the White House to the Egyptian unrest on Sunday, saying it was received "like lead."

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, told ABC's "This Week" that the people were expecting the U.S. to be on the side of democracy and "let go of a dictator."

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"He's also saying, 'I look to the government, you know, i.e., Mubarak, you know, to implement democracy,'" ElBaradei said of President Obama's call for reforms and protecting the rights of the people.

"I mean, to ask a dictator to implement democratic measure after 30 years in power is an oxymoron," he said. "So they need to let go of [President Hosni] Mubarak. They need to side with the people. They need to go for, you know, transition, smooth transition, through a government of national salvation. This is only way out."

ElBaradei brushed aside the concerns of the administration and many on Capitol Hill that an opening for the banned Muslim Brotherhood to take greater power in the country could result in an Islamist state. One of the Brotherhood's former members, Ayman al-Zawahri, is al Qaeda's No. 2.

"This is total bogus that the Muslim Brotherhood are religiously conservative," he said. "They are no way extremists. They are no way using violence. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people. They will not be more than maybe 20 percent of the Egyptian people.

"You have to include them like, you know, new evangelical, you know, groups in the U.S., like the orthodox Jews in Jerusalem," ElBaradei said.

He said the Islamists were "not at all" behind the uprising. He advocated that Mubarak leave immediately and that the army be negotiated with on a national unity government.

"I does not mean that Egypt will be hostile to the U.S," ElBaradei said. "This is — again, we traditionally in Egypt, in the Arab world, have always been friends with the U.S., friends with Europe, and I have no doubt that that will continue, but under the basis of a stability and not pseudo-stability, where you are oppressing people in the country."

News agencies reported Saturday that ElBaradei was headed to Cairo's Tahrir Square to speak to protesters.

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