Mubarak's last PM backs army's Sisi for president
09 September 2013, 16:20
Cairo - Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq says he
will back army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for president in an election
expected next year, adding to speculation that the man who led the overthrow of
President Mohammed Morsi could become head of state.
Shafiq, a former air force commander who came second in last
year's presidential election, said he would not run if Sisi did.
The comment suggests why, just months before the election,
there are no declared candidates as politicians wait to see if Sisi is going to
run before announcing their own intentions.
Sisi has said he does not seek authority though speculation
he will run has mounted since he toppled the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi from
the presidency on 3 July. Sisi is widely expected to win if he runs.
In an interview with Dream 2 television station, Shafiq said
he would run for president if he had broad support but he would not contest an
election if Sisi did.
"May God give him good fortune. We would all support
him and I am the first one to support him," said Shafiq, who came second
to Morsi in the presidential election in 2012. "If Sisi is nominated I
will not run."
Shafiq was one of an array of candidates who ran in last
year's election, the first time Egyptians freely chose their head of state. The
vote was preceded by months of frenzied campaigning, in stark contrast to now.
Even if Sisi does not run, analysts say the military will
remain at the heart of power, curbing the influence of the next head of state.
Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist politician who came third in the
2012 election, has also said Sisi would win, while sidestepping questions on
his own intentions.
Analysts have suggested retired or serving military officers
would run. Sisi was head of military intelligence under Hosni Mubarak. Former
Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who came fifth in the election, is also seen as a
The Brotherhood has accused Sisi of trying to rehabilitate
the old order that ran Egypt for 30 years under Mubarak.
Sisi has emerged as the public face of the new order,
enjoying fawning coverage in Egyptian media and sowing doubts about the
military's promise to hand over to full civilian rule with a "road
map" to parliamentary and presidential elections.
The army-backed interim government, with the support of a
sizeable section of the population, has been cracking down hard on the Muslim
Brotherhood, a million-member movement that emerged from decades of repression
under Mubarak's military-backed rule to win five popular votes in all.
More than 2 000 Islamist activists have been arrested since Morsi
was ousted and most of the Brotherhood's top leaders, including Morsi, have
been jailed on charges of inciting or taking part in violence. Some have also
been accused of terrorism or murder.
Over the same period, more than 1 000 people have been
killed in political violence. Most were protesters killed by security forces
breaking up pro-Morsi camps in Cairo. Abound 100 were members of the security