Egypt Is ‘Disintegrating’ as Tourism Drop Cripples Economy, ElBaradei Says

Egypt is disintegrating socially and its economy “is bust,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and possible candidate for the Egyptian presidency.

“Right now, socially, we are disintegrating,” ElBaradei said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” scheduled to air today. “Economically we are not in the best state. Politically it’s -- it’s like a black hole. We do not know where we are heading.”

ElBaradei said many Egyptians don’t feel secure as the country struggles to create a new government after former president Hosni Mubarak was forced from power by protests earlier this year.

“People do not feel secure,” ElBaradei said. “They are buying guns” to protect themselves, he said.

ElBaradei said he wasn’t sure when a presidential race could begin because there aren’t any laws that outline “how to run a campaign, how you raise funds” or when candidates can become official.

“What kind of state or regime we are going to have?” ElBaradei asked. “Is it a presidential system? Is it a parliamentary system? When are we going to have a new constitution?”

Muslim Brotherhood

He also expressed concern about the influence of the Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood, which has had longer to organize than other nascent political contenders. ElBaradei said the election may slip to next year given the uncertainty.

Amre Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister who is stepping down as the head of the Arab League to seek his country’s presidency, said in a separate interview on the CNN program that he doesn’t think Egypt’s current problems will “derail the revolution or derail our quest for and movement towards democracy.”

ElBaradei said the Egyptian economy is suffering from no investment, inflation, a budget deficit and lack of tourism. He urged more outside investment in the country to spur an economic recovery.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt slumped by about 60 percent in March from a year earlier, after the popular uprising against Mubarak, according to the Cairo-based government statistics agency. Tourists’ spending fell to $352 million from $1 billion, it said.

In addition to lost tourism revenue, factory output has been hit by strikes and near-daily protests since the uprising, many demanding wage increases. Growth may slow to 1 percent this year, the lowest rate in almost two decades, the International Monetary Fund has said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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