UAE deports Egyptian presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq | News | DW | 02.12.2017
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UAE deports Egyptian presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq

The ex-general met with his lawyer after rumors circulated he may have been disappeared upon arriving in Egypt. Ahmed Shafiq is considered on of the few challengers that could successfully run against President el-Sissi.

Three Egyptian women veiled in black hold up posters of Ahmed Shafiq during prodemocracy protests in 2012.

Women hold up posters of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in 2012

Police in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday deported former army general Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister in the wake of ex-President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011.

Rumors circulated on Sunday that he may have been disappeared after he failed to communicate with his family and personal lawyer when he arrived in Egypt. But his lawyer Dina Adly on Sunday wrote on her Facebook page that she met with Shafiq after he arrived in Cairo.

In 2012 — a year after Mubarak's overthrow during a pro-democracy uprising — Shafiq narrowly lost his bid for president to Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi.

Shafiq went on trial facing corruption charges, but was acquitted. Still, he fled to the UAE, going into self-imposed exile.

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'Back to Cairo'

On Saturday, one aide said she saw officials arrive at Shafiq's house, and was told he would be deported to Egypt.

"They took him from the house and put him on a private plane," she said. "They said he would go back to Cairo, because they can deport him only to his home country."

Shafiq's lawyer Dina Adly wrote on Facebook that hehad been "arrested" to be sent home.

Previously, one of Shafiq's aides said he would leave the UAE over the weekend, and head to France and other European countries before returning to Egypt.

El-Sissi's only threat

Shafiq announced his plans to seek the Egyptian presidency on Wednesday, adding that he was being prevented from leaving the UAE by the government. The comment sparked outrage from pro-government media and some officials.

Shafiq is broadly considered the only threat to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's re-election bid in 2018. El-Sissi, a former army chief who toppled Morsi in a 2013 coup, was elected president in 2014, although international observers called into doubt the legitimacy of the results.

"He announced his bid, so he did want to return," Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin told DW. "But he knows the risks. It's quite brave of him, really, to challenge el-Sissi."

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From coup to crackdown

As president el-Sissi unleashed a bloody crackdown on virtually all of his perceived political opponents, including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters, non-Islamist dissidents, as well as secularists.

Despite sky-rocketing inflation rates and a $12-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), not to mention a brutal insurgency that has killed hundreds, el-Sissi maintains broad public support.

"Islamic State" (IS) militants are suspected of carrying out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history last month. The jihadists slaughtered more than 300 worshipers during a prayer service in a mosque, sparking outrage across Egypt.

bik/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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