He probably wasn't going to win anyway - too secular for most voter's tastes. But former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and Nobel Prize winner Mohamad ElBaradei has vast name recognition and is respected by most Egyptians.
ElBaradei has dropped out of the presidential race citing the military's continued grip on power.
Though he was not considered a likely winner of presidential elections to be held this year, the announcement by the former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog brings attention to the state of Egypt's transition: Nearly a year after a mass uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, the military rulers who replaced him have not overseen a quick transition to democracy as they promised.
Instead, the generals repeatedly delayed elections, brutally crushed protests, killing dozens of people, and made clear that they wanted control over the process of writing Egypt's new constitution to preserve their power and privilege.
"I said from the start that my conscience will not allow me to run for president or any official position unless there is a real democratic framework, that upholds the essence of democracy and not only its form," Dr. ElBaradei said in a statement.
He criticized the military's leadership, comparing the generals to incompetent ship captains, and saying the military was continuing on the same road as Mubarak, "as if a revolution did not take place, and a regime did not fall."
What the last few months of military rule has shown is that since the 1950's, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak were all creatures of the military and that their power wasn'd dependent on one man. Egypt's military has spread its tentacles across society until they own virtually everything of value - businesses, factories, export-import, even the arts.
They don't care who wins the parliamentary elections just as long as their privileged position in society is left alone. The Muslim Brotherhood appears ready to make that deal and allow the military to hold sway while reforming society from the ground up.
It is doubtful that no matter who is elected president will change the fundamental nature of Egyptian society. The military will continue in power and proabably murder anyone who tries to change that. ElBaradei may be a fool about Iran's nuclear program but he has correctly sized up the situation in Egypt and wants no part of it.