Former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafik, who last week announced plans to run for the presidency, was deported from the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, his family said, and arrived in Cairo hours later, as reported by Reuters.
Shafik, a former air force commander and government minister,” was seen as the strongest potential opponent of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to run a second term next year,” said Reuters.
The airport sources said that Shafik landed in a private plane in Cairo airport with high airport security on Saturday evening.
A Reuters witness at the airport said Egyptian authorities escorted Shafik in a motorcade that was waiting for him outside the airport.
UAE news agency WAM said Shafik left the Emirates, one of the closest allies to al-Sisi’s government, for Egypt without giving any details on why or how he departed.
It said his family had remained behind in the Emirates.
Reuters reported that May Shafik, Shafik’s daughter, said that the authorities had come for him at his home and sent him to Cairo.
“We were about to leave to travel to France. They came and took him. They deported him in a private plane. They said they will deport him to Egypt,” May said.
She said,”Just because he announced he will run for president they deported him to Egypt and I don’t know what will they do to him.”
A Gulf source familiar with the matter said earlier,”Shafik has publicly asked to go to Egypt and his wish will be met.”
Shafik’s lawyer on her Facebook page also said he had been taken from the family home.
In the same context, security officials stated that Shafik now faces possible treason charges or other legal action in Egyptian courts, said the New York Times.
In fact, the move against Ahmed Shafik is the strongest indication yet of the length that the United Arab Emirates is willing to go in order to protect al-Sisi of Egypt from any real challenge in his expected campaign for re-election next spring.
In a surprise announcement from the UAE, where he has been based, Shafik said on Wednesday that he would run for the presidency.
May Shafik said on Friday he was preparing to depart, first for Europe and the United States before returning to Egypt to start his campaign.
However, Shafik said that the leaders of the United Arab Emirates were preventing him from leaving their country, seeking to block him from running again against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“I was surprised to find myself prevented from leaving our sister country,” the former general, Ahmed Shafik, said in a videotaped statement from Dubai, where he has lived in exile with the support of the Emirates since he lost the 2012 Egyptian presidential election.
“I reject interventions into the affairs of my country by preventing me from participating in a constitutional process and a sacred national mission.”
The UAE, an ally of al-Sisi, has been officially silent on Shafik’s candidacy announcement.
Al-Sisi as a military commander led the ousting of Egypt’s first freely democratically elected president Morsi in 2013, before his own landslide election a year later.
Since then, pro-media supporters portray him as a key to Egypt’s stability following the upheaval that followed the 2011 Egyptian revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
However, his government is facing many critics due to the presence of unresolved crisis as fighting the stubborn Islamist militant insurgency in the Sinai region as well as also the enacted painful austerity reforms that he adopted over the last year to revive the economy.
In the end, there is no doubt that critics have dented Al-Sisi’s popularity and thus, made the autocratic military commander feels threatened by the presence of another competitor with a military background.