Ahmed Shafik, former Egyptian prime minister, says he is still considering running in next year’s presidential elections but that he will need to explore the option further.
Appearing on Egypt’s Dream TV channel on Sunday evening, Shafik denied that Egyptian authorities had kidnapped him, as was claimed by his family after he vanished upon his arrival in Cairo on Saturday.
“Today I am here in the country, so I think I am free to deliberate further on the issue, to explore and go down and talk to people in the street … so there’s a chance now to investigate more and see exactly what is needed … to feel out if this is the logical choice,” Shafik said.
The presidential hopeful landed in the Egyptian capital on Saturday after he was deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he found refuge in 2012 when he narrowly lost the presidential elections against Mohamed Morsi.
While in exile in Abu Dhabi, he was placed on trial in absentia in Egypt and found guilty of corruption charges. He was later acquitted, clearing a path for his potential return to his home country.
It is unclear why Shafik was deported from UAE, but commentators said he may have insulted his Gulf hosts by appearing in a video message, released by Al Jazeera, in which he said he was barred from leaving the country.
Shafik was planning to go on a European tour to campaign for his presidential bid among the Egyptian diaspora.
The UAE is a strong supporter of Egypt’s incumbent leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
After Shafik’s disappearance upon his arrival in Egypt, family members feared he had been “kidnapped” by Egyptian authorities.
The 76-year old later denied this in his TV appearance on Sunday evening.
Dina Adly, Shafik’s lawyer, said on Sunday evening that her client had checked into a hotel and was in good health.
“I had a meeting with Shafik an hour ago at one of the hotels in New Cairo and confirmed his health,” Adly wrote on Facebook.
“He confirmed that his health was good and that he was not subjected to any investigations,” she added, without mentioning the name of the hotel where she met Shafik.
It is unclear why Shafik was staying at the hotel and not at his family’s residence.
‘No legal restrictions’
A former air force commander, Shafik was prime minister for one month in 2011 during that year’s Arab Spring uprising.
On Friday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said he sees no legal restrictions that could prevent Shafik from running in next year’s elections against President Sisi.
“I see no reason why he should not run. I say that as a layman. I know he’s had some issues with the judiciary. I am not sure whether those have been resolved or not,” Shoukry said in a meeting in Italy.
“But in principle, he is free to represent himself to the electorate. As in any society, it’s up to the electorate to decide.”
Shafik is not the only person planning to challenge Sisi in the presidential election. Khaled Ali, a prominent Egyptian rights lawyer, has also voiced his intent to contest the 2018 elections.