Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize winning former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reportedly turned down the role of interim Egyptian prime minister Thursday night.
ElBaradei was selected by a coalition of opposition groups to represent them during this week’s dramatic popular uprising, which saw Islamist president Mohammed Morsi removed from power by military decree, but prefers to now “serve the nation in an unofficial capacity,” according to an al-Ahram report.
The opposition leader was widely reported to be in line for the interim prime minister position, but talks were reportedly underway Thursday instead between military leaders and Farouq el-Oqda, the former head of Egypt’s central bank, over the position, al-Ahram said.
The Egyptian military, in an announcement Wednesday evening, declared the temporary dissolution of Egypt’s constitution, the removal of Morsi from power and the beginning of an interim government phase until new elections could be called.
On Thursday, over 200 arrest warrants were issued for Muslim Brotherhood members, and over 20 top leaders were detained by security forces, as interim president Adly Mansour was sworn into office, replacing Morsi.
Because of this, ElBaradei, a prominent liberal voice in Egypt, received some criticism for what some called a crackdown on civil liberties, but he defended the detentions on Thursday.
“The security people obviously are worried — there was an earthquake and we have to make sure that the tremors are predicted and controlled,” he told The New York Times. He added that the arrests were “precautionary measures,” but “nobody should be detained or arrested in anticipation unless there is a clear accusation, and it has to be investigated by the attorney general and settled in a court.”