CAIRO (Reuters) – The family of former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik said on Sunday he had not heard from him since he was deported from the United Arab Emirates to Cairo on Saturday after announcing his intention to run for president next year.
Shafik, a former commander of the air force and government minister has been seen as the strongest potential opponent of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely expected to run for a second term next year.
His family said that Shafik was picked up at the family home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday and taken by private plane back to Cairo. A Reuters witness said Egyptian authorities escorted him in a convoy from the airport.
The UAE authorities confirmed that they left the Emirates, but Egyptian officials have not commented on the case.
"We do not know anything about him since he left home yesterday," Shafik's daughter, May, told Reuters. "His lawyer could not contact him, if we were deported, he should have been able to go home already."
The family and the lawyer said they planned to file complaints with the prosecution regarding Shafik's whereabouts.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt said that it was not responsible for the case. The interior ministry could not be contacted immediately for comment.
Sisi has not yet announced his own intentions for the presidential elections, saying that he would only follow the will of the people.
Critics say that under Sisi's presidency thousands of dissidents have been imprisoned, the government has closed independent media and has greatly restricted the conduct of polls in what rights groups call an unprecedented offensive.
Supporters dismiss criticism of human rights abuses and say security measures are needed in the face of an Islamist militant insurgency that has killed hundreds of police and soldiers over the past four years.
Shafik had said on Wednesday he would run for president in a surprise announcement from the United Arab Emirates, where he has based … Several other low-profile candidates have said they will also run.
As military commander, Sisi led the overthrow of former President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, before winning his own sweeping election a year later. Sisi supporters see it as the key to stability after the revolt that followed the 2011 revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
But his government is fighting an obstinate militant Islamist group fighting in the northern Sinai region and has also made painful austerity reforms over the past year to revive the economy, but critics say it has eroded its popularity.
Report of Amina Ismail; Written by Patrick Markey; Mark Potter edition