Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq announced Sunday that he would not be running for president in the country’s 2018 elections, reversing a former promise to challenge Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who is widely expected to win.

“I have seen that I will not be the ideal person to lead the state’s affairs during the coming period. Thus I have decided not to run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections,” Shafiq said in a statement posted on Twitter, adding that his absence from the country for the past five years has distanced him “from being able to very closely follow what is going on” in Egypt.


Shafiq, who returned to Egypt last month from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been in exile since 2012, had earlier promised to run against sitting president Sissi, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy for re-election.

The 76-year-old, an ex-air force commander and former aviation minister, was seen as the most serious political challenger to el-Sissi. Shafiq narrowly lost a presidential election against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in 2012, after which he fled the country.

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