Cairo: Hundreds of Egyptian opposition activists defied warnings to welcome home Nobel Peace laureate and former UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday amid hopes he will run for president.
Chanting the national anthem, the crowd was so large that it twice prevented ElBaradei from exiting Cairo airport after he flew in from Vienna following 12 years at the helm of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
They held up pictures of the 67-year-old and carried banners that read: ‘Yes, ElBaradei president of Egypt’ and ‘ElBaradei for presidency of Egypt 2011’.
Others shouted ‘ElBaradei 100 percent, he will bring to account the thieves’ in reference to alleged corruption during the 29-year-old regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
The crowd had gathered even though security sources said yesterday that measures would be taken to prevent any "illegal demonstrations" by ElBaradei`s supporters at the airport.
Two members of the April 6 Movement opposition group, Ahmed Maher and Amr Ali, had already been arrested for organising a reception for him and distributing leaflets encouraging people to attend, reports said.
ElBaradei, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the IAEA in 2005, has repeatedly called for democratic change in Egypt since stepping down as the agency`s head in November.