Profile: Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Reports indicate that former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq is set to compete with Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi for the Egyptian presidency in next month’s presidential run-off. Shafiq’s presidential candidacy is perhaps more controversial than most, as he is viewed by many as a “remnant” of the ousted Mubarak regime, and was even attacked with shoes and stones by opponents on election-day. However, as his strong electoral showing indicates, many others believe that Shafiq is the only candidate capable of uniting the Egyptian political scene in the general public interest.
Ahmed Shafiq was born in the Cairo district of Al-Korba in Heliopolis on 25 November, 1941, although his family originally traces its roots back to the Al-Sharqiya Governorate. He obtained his Secondary School Certificate from the Heliopolis Secondary School and went on to join the Air Force Academy, graduating in 1961. Shafiq grew up as the eldest son in a well-to-do conservative family; his father, Mohamed Shafiq Zaki, was an Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Irrigation, whilst his mother Naja Alwi, was the daughter of Dr. Mohamed Alwi Pasha, the famous Egyptian ophthalmologist. His brother Mohamed served as an Artillery Corps officer and is now a university professor and director of the National Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, whilst his sister Fatima is a housewife.
Shafiq was married to Azza Abdel-Fattah, daughter of Tawfiq Abdel-Fattah, former minister of Social Affairs and Labor, before she passed away earlier this year. Abdel-Fattah is the brother of the famous Egyptian double-agent Ra’fat al-Gammal, better known as Ra’fat al-Hajjan. Shafiq has three daughters and six children.
Shafiq enjoyed a distinguished military service record following his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1961, initially serving as a combat pilot during the North Yemen Civil War in 1963. He was also involved in the 1973 October War as a combat pilot and a Mig-21 squadron commander. He participated in the battle of Al-Mansura during which the Israeli Air Force tried to destroy Egyptian air force bases in the Nile Delta in order to secure air supremacy in the conflict; however the Egyptian forces were able to hold out.
Following the October War, Shafiq served as Military Attaché at the Egyptian Embassy in Rome from 1984 to 1986. He later returned to the Egyptian Armed Forces, serving as an Air Force Base Commander before being promoted to the position of Commander of the Air Operations Department in 1988. In September 1991, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Air Force, holding this position until he was named the Commander of the Egyptian Air Force in April 1996.
Shafiq also obtained a Master’s degree in Military Sciences and a Ph.D. in the National Strategy of Ouster-Space. He is a fellow of the Higher War College of the Nasser Military Academy, as well as a fellow of Combined Arms at the High War College in Paris.
Shafiq has won numerous military decorations including the Republic’s Military Decoration, First Class, the Distinguished Service Medal, the April 25th Decoration, the Military Bravery Decoration, First Class, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.
Shafiq put away his military uniform in order to take up the position of Minister of Civil Aviation in March 2002. He successfully oversaw the development of Cairo Airport during this period, in addition to other projects. He was later appointed Prime Minister by Hosni Mubarak on 29 January, 2011, in a bid to satisfy the popular uprising against him, however his premiership was short-lived, lasting for approximately one month, after he resigned on 3 March following pressure from protesters and the opposition.
Despite the controversy surrounding his ties to the Mubarak regime and his short stint as Prime Minister, many Egyptians have backed his candidacy, whilst he is also enjoying strong support from the military. It appears that Egypt will face a divisive presidential run-off on 16 – 17 June, between the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi, and the former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq; it is very difficult to know who will ultimately come out on top but all signs indicate that this election will likely polarize Egyptian society.
Name: Ahmed Mohamed Shafiq Zaki
Alias: Ahmed Shafiq
Date of Birth: 25 November, 1941
Birthplace: Heliopolis, Cairo.
Family: Widower with three children and six grandchildren.
Academic Qualifications: Air Force Academy graduate, 1961. Master’s in Military Sciences. Ph.D. in the National Strategy of Ouster-Space
Occupation: Former Prime Minister and former Air Force Commander
Electoral symbol: The ladder, No. 9.
Campaign motto: “Egypt for all and by all”
Principle features of his Political Manifesto:
- Focusing on restoring security and stability to Egypt in order to pave the way for social development and attract foreign investment.
- Solving the unemployment crisis via a number of different measures and projects.
- Establishing a “special economic zone” in the environs of the Suez Canal and the five surrounding provinces to develop them into a global service for transport and trade, in addition to developing maritime facilities and diverse industries
- Appointing six presidential delegates to oversee specific important tasks including Nile affairs, development of Upper Egypt, the Suez Canal special economic zone, combating corruption and developing democracy, amongst others.