LONDON (Reuters) - Egyptians must overcome economic and political differences to unite and put the country on the path to democracy and away from military rule, former presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei said Wednesday.
"It is time to set aside our differences. We need the strength of a unified Egypt: ensuring judicial independence, protecting media freedom and civil society, and tapping Egypt's potential as an emerging market," ElBaradei wrote in the Financial Times of London.
The former head of the U.N. nuclear agency gave his backing to the Muslim Brotherhood, a well organized Islamist group, which he believes will "embrace other political factions, support free markets and be pragmatic."
Egypt's ruling military council, eager to relinquish power as soon as possible, has indicated that parliamentary elections could happen as soon as September, to be followed by a presidential election.
ElBaradei, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, described the performance of the military rulers as "below expectations," adding that Egyptians have seen "little positive change" as the country's economy, including its once-booming tourism industry, shrivels
He identified the "lack of democratic framework" as his reason for pulling out of the race for the Egyptian presidency last month, but will instead focus on bolstering the country's social cohesion.
"I believe I can contribute more if I am not wading through the political muck and hope to help groom the youth that triggered the revolution so they can take over the leadership of the country in the next election," he wrote.
"We have one undeniable achievement to bolster our confidence: the culture of fear has gone forever. Despite the ups and downs of the past year I believe with all my heart that our revolution will succeed."
ElBaradei withdrew as a candidate for the Egyptian presidency last month, saying "the previous regime" was still effectively running the country.
(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Michael Roddy)