CAIRO – An Egyptian presidential hopeful living in the United Arab Emirates arrived in Cairo on Saturday, airport officials said, just days after he announced his plans to run for president in the country’s 2018 elections.
Former government minister Ahmed Shafiq landed in Cairo airport amid tightened security. Some of Shafiq’s relatives were allowed to receive him at the airport. It wasn’t clear where he would head afterward.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Shafiq’s lawyer, Dina Adly, had announced earlier in a public Facebook post that he had been arrested at his home in Abu Dhabi to be deported to Egypt. She added that all lines of communication with him have been cut.
In a subsequent Facebook post later Saturday, Adly urged the media against attributing any announcements to her citing her client’s “interests”, the “cutting of communication” and the “escalation of events.” She didn’t elaborate.
UAE’s official news agency WAM quoted an unnamed official as saying that Shafiq left for Cairo and that his family was still in the UAE.
Shafiq, a former air force general, briefly headed the government during the final days of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and shortly after Mubarak was ousted in a 2011 uprising. He announced from the UAE last week he would return to Egypt to run in the upcoming presidential elections.
He ran in Egypt’s first free elections in 2012 and lost by a narrow margin to Islamist Mohammed Morsi before fleeing the country. He has since dodged several corruption allegations.
Egypt’s general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military ouster of Morsi following mass protests against his one year rule which proved divisive.
A prominent rights lawyer, Khaled Ali, has also announced he will run in 2018 but has alleged harassment by the authorities.
El-Sissi has yet to officially declare his candidacy in the upcoming elections. He won a landslide victory in 2014 elections which international observers said fell short of standards for a free election.
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