Former Egyptian premier Ahmed Shafiq still considering presidential bid | News | DW | 04.12.2017
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Former Egyptian premier Ahmed Shafiq still considering presidential bid

Ahmed Shafiq has made his first comments since arriving in Cairo amid a swirl of rumors he had been kidnapped. The former premier and air force officer says he is still considering a run for the presidency in 2018.

Former Egyptian prime minister and presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq said Sunday he had not been kidnapped and was still considering running in next year's election.

The former air force chief had not been heard from since arriving in Cairo on Saturday from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been in exile since 2012.

Aides and family members said he had been taken from his UAE home and deported, days after he made an announcement that he would run for president.

Shafiq is viewed as the strongest challenger for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who hasn't yet made an announcement on whether he will run next year. He is, however, expected to do so.

'Talk to people in the street'

"Today, I am here in the country, so I think I am free to deliberate further on the issue, to explore and go down and talk to people in the street," Shafiq said Sunday in his first television interview since arriving in Egypt.

"There's a chance now to investigate more and see exactly what is needed ... to feel out if this is the logical choice."

Squashing rumors he had been kidnapped, Shafiq said authorities picked him up at the airport and brought him to a hotel in Cairo, adding that his home needed some renovations.

"I was surprised truthfully when I was in the car that I was being driven to one of the most distinguished hotels in the area where I live," he said in the interview on Dream TV. "Here I am talking to you and not kidnapped or anything."

His lawyer, Dina Adly, wrote on her Facebook page that she had met with him at the hotel on Sunday and that he was not under any investigation.

Read more: Egypt mulls law to prosecute 'political commentators' amid free expression crackdown

Egypt needs new blood: Shafiq

Shafiq announced his intention to run for the presidency on Wednesday, saying the country needed new blood to solve its many problems.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, is greeted by Saudi King Salman (picture-alliance/AP Photo)

President El-Sissi (right) is a close ally of Gulf Arab states

He apparently upset his UAE hosts after claiming in an interview on Al-Jazeera that he was being prevented from leaving the country. The UAE, alongside Arab Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, view the Qatar-based TV network as propaganda and want it shut down.

The countries are also close allies of el-Sissi, who they view as a bulwark against Islamist militants and the Muslim Brotherhood, an ideological and political rival of the Gulf monarchies. 

Shafiq ran for the presidency in 2012, but narrowly lost to Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He then fled the country after facing a series of criminal charges, all of which were later dismissed.

El-Sissi led a military coup against Morsi in 2013, subsequently banning the Muslim Brotherhood.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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