CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister says there is no legal restriction on former prime minister and air force general Ahmed Shafiq contesting the 2018 presidential election.
Sameh Shoukry’s remarks Friday came at a forum in Rome just days after Shafiq announced his intention to run.
“I know he’s had some issues with the judiciary. I am not sure whether those have been resolved or not,” Shoukry said, adding that in principle anyone without pending legal cases is free to run.
Shafiq, a former air force general who briefly headed a government after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a 2011 uprising, says in a video posted to YouTube Wednesday that he was “honored” to present himself for the next four-year term.
But, Shafiq, who is living in the United Arab Emirates, says his host country is blocking his departure.
The UAE is denying the allegation and says he is free to travel.
The Qatar-based satellite network Al-Jazeera broadcast a video with Shafiq saying that Emirati officials prevented him from leaving to return to Egypt in the coming days, just hours after he announced his candidacy Wednesday night.
In the video Shafiq says: “I was surprised to be prevented from leaving the United Arab Emirates for reasons I do not understand.”
However, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tweeted in response that the “United Arab Emirates confirms there is no obstacle” to Shafiq’s leaving.
Shafiq lost by a narrow margin to the Islamist Mohammad Morsi in Egypt’s first free election in 2012. He then fled the country and has since dodged corruption allegations.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has yet to formally declare his candidacy, although he won the last election by an overwhelming majority in a vote independent observers said did not meet international standards for a free election. Another candidate, a rights lawyer, says he intends to run.