Egypt's former PM gives up presidential candidacy
CAIRO, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq announced on Sunday to drop his bid for presidency in the upcoming elections.
"I have realized that I would not be the ideal person to run the state affairs during the coming period. Therefore, I have decided not to run in the 2018 presidential elections," Shafiq said in a statement on his Twitter account.
Shafiq, who fled Egypt after narrowly losing to the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the 2012 elections, announced in the United Arab Emirates in November his intention to run for president.
However, he later returned to Egypt in early December, saying he would reconsider his decision.
"Perhaps my absence for over five years prevented me from accurate follow-up of the developments and accomplishments achieved in our nation despite the difficult conditions caused by violence and terrorism," Shafiq said in his statement.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has not yet formally announced his candidacy for the 2018 elections, but he is widely expected to do so and to earn a landslide victory due to the absence of competitive challengers.
Sisi took office in mid-2014, a year after he led the ouster of his predecessor Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against Morsi's one-year rule and his now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.
Sisi said in November that the 2018 presidential elections will be held in March or April as scheduled, stressing that he will not seek to change the constitutional limit of two four-year presidential terms, thus ruling out a third presidential term for himself.
A pro-Sisi campaign said in late December that it collected over 12 million signatures of Egyptians, more than 11 percent of the population, supporting Sisi to run for a second presidential term.
Egyptian rights and opposition lawyer Khaled Ali announced in November his intention to join the 2018 presidential race.
However, Ali could be disqualified as he has received a suspended three-month jail term in September over an obscene hand gesture he reportedly made after winning a court order challenging the government.