Former UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei blasted Egypt's “authoritarian” government and insisted political change was coming.
“The more unpopular this regime becomes, the more it realizes how much it is hated, the most authoritarian it becomes,” ElBaradei told the Austrian daily Kurier on Saturday.
“That's untenable in the long term, change will come,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner promised.
“The timing only depends on when people will be able to throw off this culture of fear that the regime has created.”
ElBaradei, now an opposition figure who has campaigned for constitutional reform at home, said “Egyptians have lived for so long in an authoritarian system, which tells them what they should or should not do, that they don't even know what democracy really means, what it would change.”
But he saw hope in the younger generation.
“They haven't made arrangements with the system yet, they have their future before them. The so-called elite let itself be corrupted by the system a long time ago. It doesn't want any change.”
ElBaradei also voiced regret that the Arab world had distanced itself from democracy.
“Democracy is not like soluble coffee, where you stir it and it's done. You have to educate people and we weren't raised for democracy,” he added.
ElBaradei, who stepped down as director general of the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA in February, has called for constitutional amendments to allow independent candidates not affiliated to an existing party — such as himself — to run in Egyptian presidential elections next year.
He has also called for a boycott of next month's parliamentary polls.