Presidential hopeful Shafiq 'detained' in Cairo after UAE deportation

Former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq addressing a press conference in Cairo. AFP file

Shafiq announced last week that he plans to compete for the post of president in his homeland at next year's election and was preparing to return to Cairo in the coming days. It said his family had remained behind in the Emirates. A Reuters witness said Egyptian authorities escorted him in a convoy from the airport.

Predictably, the pro-el-Sissi media has already begun to demonise Shafiq, claiming he has forged a secret alliance with the Brotherhood, which has since Morsi's ouster been outlawed and designated a terrorist group.

"I really do not have any information on Shafiq's current whereabouts in Egypt, he did not call me, therefore I call on the Egyptian authorities as Shafiq's official lawyer to enable me to meet him and prove that he has arrived in Egypt" she stressed.

An official source at the interior ministry said: "We do not know anything about Shafiq".

"(Shafik) took refuge in the UAE and ran away from Egypt after the results of the 2012 presidential election.

"I was surprised to know that I am prevented from leaving the UAE, for reasons that I don't understand and I am not willing to understand", he said in his statement.

Saudi Arabia denied those charges but the case prompted a political crisis in Lebanon and pushed the country back into centre stage of a regional power struggle between Riyadh with its Sunni Gulf allies and Iran.

If Shafiq does run for the presidency, he is seen as a strong potential opponent of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to run for a second term next year.

"After Shafiq's declaration of his intent to run for the 2018 presidential elections, he said that he will leave for France".

It is the chief prosecutor's prerogative to investigate the complaint and, depending on his decision, refer Shafiq to trial.

"I don't think that he would take such a big political risk of insulting his hosts of over five years, who effectively gave him refuge while he was facing criminal charges in Egypt".

Sisi has yet to announce his own intentions for the election, saying he would follow the will of the people after presenting his achievements in the next two months.

But his government is fighting a stubborn Islamist militant insurgency in the Sinai region and has also enacted painful austerity reforms over the past year to revive the economy but that critics say have dented his popularity.

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