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The Bizarre Ordeal Of A Former Egyptian Prime Minister

By Dima Abumaria | The Media Line

December 5, 2017

Former Egyptian prime minister and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq at a news conference in Cairo June 3, 2012. Courtesy: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
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Ahmad Shafiq deported from the UAE and then disappears in Egypt after announcing he will run for presidency

Former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq was deported Friday to Egypt from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he has resided since his presidential elections loss to Mohammed Morsi in 2012; this, only days after he announced his intention to again run for the Egyptian presidency.

His daughter Mai alleged that Shafiq was arrested when he reached Egypt. However, in a Sunday evening phone-in with the privately-owned television station Dream TV, Shafiq denied that he had been detained upon arrival in Cairo before declaring that his return to Egypt would allow him to reassess his decision to run for office.

David Butter, a fellow at the Chatham House research institute in London, told The Media Line that after Shafiq’s defeat to Morsi following the ouster of former strongman Hosni Mubarak, there were a few legal cases still pending against him, but nothing serious enough to justify his purported arrest upon his return to Egypt. “The whole ordeal has been a bit bizarre,” he explained, “as Shafiq left the UAE after announcing his candidacy for the presidency, arrived on a jet and then disappeared before his somewhat rambling appearance on television.”

Butter shed light on the fact that Shafiq is viewed as being very close to the old military establishment in Egypt and has been presented as a possible alternative to current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. However, he elaborated, “there does not appear to be much popular backing for Shafiq and it may be that he misjudged the political scene since the Egyptian state is willing to use any means to neutralize a threat to its power.”

As such, many analysts believe that the events are probably a case of much ado about nothing, because even if Shafiq does get back into the race he will be widely regarded as damaged goods. “The real question,” Butter concluded, “is if Sisi will run for a second term or not, and if he does, whether he wants some kind of credible opponent which may or may not be Shafiq.”

According to Ali Waked, an Arab-Israeli political analyst, the UAE’s move to deport Shafiq is the latest indication of Abu Dhabi’s readiness to protect Sisi from any possible challenge he may face in the next presidential election, slated for April.

“The UAE is the regional spearhead against the Muslim Brotherhood movement,” he told The Media Line. “Moreover, the country is an important economic sponsor for Sisi,” Waked added, while noting that Egyptian media have initiated a campaign against Shafiq claiming that he is an ally of the Brotherhood.

Shafiq’s nephew, Hisham Shafiq contended in a Facebook post that was later deleted that Egyptian authorities prevented Shafiq’s family members from meeting him at Cairo airport and did not allow Shafiq to proceed to his home after landing.

Shafiq served for one month as prime minister prior to Mubarak’s overthrow, and then received some 12,000,000 votes, coming second to Morsi, in subsequent elections.

The International Federation for Human Rights condemned what it described as the forcible deportation of Shafiq to Egypt.

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