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Ahmed Shafiq 'being held by Egyptian military in Cairo hotel'

Shafiq has hardly been seen since announcing his presidential bid in November [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 December, 2017

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Presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq is on lock down in a luxury hotel and under pressure to retract his bid for the Egyptian presidency, according to sources.
Former Egyptian Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq is being held in Cairo's JW Marriott hotel by Egyptian military police, despite his insistence that he is staying there at his own will while his private residence is renovated.

The 76-year-old has been living at the five star hotel since he flew into Cairo from the United Arab Emirates under mysterious circumstances after announcing his 2018 presidential bid. 

The former army general had not been seen for two days since being picked up by Egyptian authorities at Cairo's airport.

According to Shafiq's aides, he was arrested and deported by Emirati authorities in the wake of his candidacy annoucement on November 29.

A source from the hotel in question told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Shafiq has been residing in a private suite since December 2, reserved by the military intelligence service.

Egyptian military intelligence are also footing the entire bill of Shafiq's stay. The source revealed that the nightly cost of Shafiq's suite is 10,200 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to $570).

His movement in the area surrounding the hotel is reportedly restricted, despite his and his party's statements that he is staying in the hotel at his own will while his own residence undergoes renovation.

These statements contradict claims made by Shafiq's family that he had been kidnapped by the Egyptian authorities on his return to Egypt.
Sources say that Shafiq is guarded around the clock at the luxury
Cairo hotel [Getty]

The source added that four plain-clothed military intelligence guards take turns guarding Shafiq and live in a lower-cost suite opposite, at a rate of 7700 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to $425) per night. The guards accompany Shafiq everywhere during the day and do not allow him to speak to journalists or reporters.

According to the source, Shafiq is only allowed to leave his room to have breakfast, and even during this time he is under tight security control. Lunch and dinner are sent to his room. On top of this, Shafiq is not permitted any contact with hotel guests, and his personal visits are limited to family members only.

Shafiq's media appearances have also been waning over past days. The former minister was allowed one interview with the journalist Wael Ibrahimi, broadcast on the satellite channel Dream TV on Sunday. 

In the interview, Shafiq's first public appearance since leaving the UAE, he said he was still considering running for the presidency.

"Today I am here in the country, so I think I am free to deliberate further on the issue, to explore and go down and talk to people in the street ... so there's a chance now to investigate more and see exactly what is needed ... to feel out if this is the logical choice," he said.

Shafiq was subsequently visited on Monday by General Raouf al-Sayed, his deputy in the National Movement Party. The pair held a two-hour meeting, where they discussed the possibility of Shafiq "reviewing" his presidential bid, after coming under pressure since announcing his candidacy two weeks ago.

The National Movement Party issued a statement on Sunday evening, saying: "Shafiq and his deputy discussed the party's position in regard to some of the recent political issues, as well as its position on the presidential elections [...] in accordance with the greater interests of the country," hinting that a decision will be made on Shafiq's candidacy.

The statement added that Shafiq was in good health and that he was happy to be back in his home country, concluding that their leader, "is in the good care of the Egyptian state".
Those involved in the military establishment must not compete for the presidency with candidates belonging to the same institution

A prominent source revealed the leaders of Shafiq's party have been under intense pressure recently from the ruling party to mediate with the presidential hopeful and discourage him from running for reasons of public interest, citing that, "those involved in the military establishment must not compete for the presidency with candidates belonging to the same institution".

The source said in a private conversation with al-Araby al-Jadeed that: "Shafiq is currently reviewing his position on whether to run or not, which he will announce at a press conference before the end of December," hinting that the former prime minister will be retracting his decision to run for the presidency, in a similar turn of events to his former chief of staff Sami Annan, in the 2014 elections.

Shafiq is seen by critics of the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as the strongest competitor for the presidency. Elections are due to take place in the spring of 2018.

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