Egypt presidential hopeful denies kidnap reports after return from exile

Cairo/Dubai: Putting to rest all speculations about his whereabouts after he was deported from UAE on Saturday, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told an Egyptian news channel that he was not kidnapped.

He also reaffirmed his plan to run for president in elections due in March or April next year. He is seen as the main rival to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an ally of UAE, who is yet to announce his candidacy.

Shafiq’s family had suspected foul play when they lost contact with him after he landed in Egypt and was escorted by security men from the Cairo airport. His daughter Mai Ahmed Shafiq said they feared he had been kidnapped.

However, late on Sunday, Shafiq’s lawyer Dina Adly met him in a hotel in Cairo. He was in good health and did not face any investigations after landing in Cairo, she said.

One week back, Shafiq announced his plan to run for president. It is unclear whether his deportation is linked to this announcement.

One of his aides said officials took Shafiq from his home in Abu Dhabi and put him on a private plane to Cairo.

Shafiq had fled to UAE in 2012 to escape arrest after he lost the presidential elections to Mohamed Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood who pressed false corruption charges against him. The charges were dropped after al-Sisi took over as president in 2014.

Shafiq had served as prime minister for three weeks under President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 until the latter was ousted following the Egyptian Revolution.