CAIRO — Leading Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei urged President Mohamed Morsi on Saturday to resign for the sake of national unity, ahead of planned opposition-backed rallies calling on the Islamist leader to step down.
"For Egypt's sake, I call on President Mohamed Morsi to resign and give us the opportunity to begin a new phase based on the principles of the revolution, which are freedom and social justice," ElBaradei said.
"I would like to call on President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood to respond to the cries from all over Egypt," he said at a conference aimed at drawing up a plan for a post-Morsi Egypt.
ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear watchdog chief who now heads the opposition, said the June 30 protests are intended to "correct the path" of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The opposition accuses Morsi of concentrating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood movement and failing to manage the country's economy and security.
With Egypt deeply polarized between Morsi's mainly Islamist supporters and wide-ranging opposition, ElBaradei said it was time for "national reconciliation" in order to move forward.
What is needed is "a system based on free and fair elections with international and local monitoring (and) parliamentary elections to have all segments of society represented," he said.
"We want the Egypt that the revolution rose up for," he said.
A campaign dubbed Tamarod (rebellion in Arabic) called for the anti-Morsi rally to coincide with the first anniversary of his taking office.
Tamarod has rapidly picked up steam, and organizers say they have collected 15 million signatures demanding Morsi's resignation.
© AFP 2013