Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force pilot and ex-presidential candidate, told Reuters on Wednesday he intended to run in the presidential election early next year, saying he would return to Egypt in the “coming days”.
In a video declaration sent to Reuters and a telephone statement, Shafiq said he would run in the election planned for around April, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely expected to seek a second term.
“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,” he said in the statement from the United Arab Emirates in which he highlights his experience in the air force.
Shafiq would be one of the few candidates who have announced their intentions for 2018. He lost against Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in the first election after Egypt’s 2011 uprising against former leader Hosni Mubarak.
Sisi, who as a military commander led the army’s ousting of Mursi in 2013 before his own landslide election a year later, has yet to announce whether he will run again. He says he will follow the will of the people.
His supporters see Sisi as key to stability following the upheaval that followed the 2011 revolt. His government is fighting a stubborn Islamist militancy in the North Sinai and has also enacted painful austerity reforms over the last year that critics say have dented his popularity.
After his defeat Shafiq fled overseas. He formed a political party and led it from abroad. The party failed to make significant gains during a 2015 parliamentary election.
Shafiq had faced various corruption charges but was either acquitted or had cases against him dropped in most instances. A year ago, his lawyer said he was removed from airport watchlists, clearing his way to return home.