Former Egyptian Premier Ahmed Shafiq on Sunday announced he will not stand in the 2018 presidential elections, reversing a pledge to challenge at polls set to be dominated by leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Shafiq’s decision to scrap his candidacy came after he returned from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been living in exile since 2012, back to Egypt last month.
“I have decided to not run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections,” Shafiq said in a statement posted online. “I saw that I will not be the best person.”
Shafiq, appointed Premier by former President Hosni Mubarak shortly before his overthrow in 2011, was seen as a main challenger for Sisi, who is expected to cruise to a new term despite not yet officially announcing his candidacy.
The ex-Prime Minister announced his plans to compete for the presidency in a November 29 video from the UAE, stating that it seemed the country needed “new blood” to face its current “many problems in all aspects of life”.
But after angering his Emirati hosts by claiming in a video first aired by Al-Jazeera that he was being prevented from leaving the country, his aides said he was deported to Egypt on December 2.
After arriving back in his homeland, Shafiq disappeared from view for around 24 hours, before reemerging to tell a talk show host that he was reconsidering his bid for the presidency.
In his withdrawal statement on Sunday, Shafiq appeared to have dramatically changed his tune on the situation in Egypt since his initial pledge to stand.
Being out of the country in exile “may have kept me away from carefully following updates in the homeland, of progress and accomplishments,” he said.