Former Egyptian Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik announced on Sunday that he is no longer considering running for president in the upcoming elections, which are expected to be held next May.
Shafik said in a statement on Twitter,”I have decided following my return to my beloved home country to re-assess the general situation regarding what I announced during my stay in the UAE.”
“My absence of more than five years perhaps distanced me from being able to very closely follow what is going on in our nation in terms of developments and achievements despite the difficulty of the conditions,” the statement read.
“I have seen that I will not be the ideal person to lead the state’s affairs during the coming period. Thus I have decided not to run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections,” Shafik declared.
In late November 2016, Shafik announced from the UAE, where he had been in exile since 2012, that he intends to run in the upcoming presidential elections.
At that time Shafik said that his intentions to run for elections was Egypt’s suffering at “many problems breaching all aspects of life and which have led to the collapse or deterioration of all public services.” He also campaigned against the frightening growth on national debt.
However, Shafik had appeared on Al Jazeera television to say he was being barred from leaving UAE. He 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.
He added,” I reject interventions into the affairs of my country by preventing me from participating in a constitutional process and a sacred national mission.”
Later, in a surprise move, Ahmed Shafik was deported from the United Arab Emirates and arrived in Cairo. He also appeared later in an interview on Dream TV which was his first public appearance since leaving the UAE.
His family said earlier they feared he had been “kidnapped”. Sources said he had been picked up by Egyptian authorities at Cairo airport.
Shafik dismissed reports he had been kidnapped.
Earlier after being deported to Cairo, Shafik’s family said that he had been taken from their home by UAE authorities and flown by private plane back to Cairo.
“We know nothing about him since he left home yesterday,”Shafik’s daughter May said before his reappearance.
She added,”If he was deported he should have been able to go home by now, not just disappear. We consider him kidnapped.”
Later, after being deported to Cairo,Shafik hinted for his desire to exit the upcoming presidential race. In a statement, Shafik said that he stands in full support of national stability.
He highlighted the presence of true state intentions for countering terrorism—a mission he said demands nationwide decisive unity.
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.
But with his announcement not to run the presidential elections, the political arena is now empty for al-Sisi alone to run for the upcoming elections.
In June 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi officially assumed office-this means that presidential elections should be scheduled to take place in February 2018. Elections will be held and the results will be announced by May of the same year.
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.
As a result, critics have dented al-Sisi’s popularity in an obvious way, but at the same time, it seems that it made the autocratic military commander also feels threatened by the presence of any other competitors; especially those with a military background.