x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

UAE denies it barred Egypt's former premier from leaving country

Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq said that he would run in the Egyptian presidential election planned for around April

This photo taken on June 3, 2012 shows former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq addressing a press conference in Cairo. Mohammed Abed / AFP
This photo taken on June 3, 2012 shows former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq addressing a press conference in Cairo. Mohammed Abed / AFP

The UAE denied that it barred Egypt’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq from leaving the country after he announced that he would run for president in his home country in 2018.

Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday night that the “UAE affirms there is no obstacle” to Mr Shafiq’s departure from the country.

“The UAE regrets Ahmed Shafiq’s denial, for he took refuge in the UAE escaping Egypt after the announcement of the results of the [Egyptian] presidential election in 2012,” he said on Twitter. “We facilitated [his move] and offered him kind hospitality despite our deep reservations about some of his positions.

“The UAE has always respected the values of hospitality and care for the love of Egypt and the Egyptians, who are in our hearts and have [shown] us appreciation and respect.”

Mr Shafiq said that he was banned from leaving “the brotherly nation of the UAE, for reasons I do not understand”, in a video message on Wednesday.

"I was intending to carry out a tour among the Egyptian diaspora before returning to my country in the next few days," he said.

Mr Shafiq’s candidacy could see him stand against president Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who has yet to declare his candidacy.

He said in a statement from the UAE that he would run in the election planned for around April.

"I'm honoured to announce my will to run in the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt as a choice to be president of the country for the next four years," said Mr Shafiq, who thanked the UAE, its leadership and people for hosting him "with all dignity".

Mr Shafiq was placed on trial in absentia on corruption charges after narrowly losing the 2012 election to former president Mohammed Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The former prime minister was acquitted, and his lawyer had said he would be free to return, but it is thought that he fears another case might be brought against him.

Mr Sisi, a former army chief elected as president in 2014 less than a year after overthrowing Mr Mursi, lauded his experience in the military and as an aviation minister under former president Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Shafiq could represent one of the few candidates who can come close to challenging the current Egyptian president.

* Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse