Barrage of flying chairs forces Shafiq to flee Imbaba rally

Dozens of Imbaba residents began throwing chairs at former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq at a campaign rally Thursday night, forcing the presidential hopeful to flee.

The incident began when an popular committee of Imbaba residents began to protest on Talaat Harb Street in an attempt to prevent Shafiq from reaching the pavilion for his rally.

Shafiq surprised the protesters by reaching the pavilion through another street parallel to Talaat Harb. Once he was on stage, the protesters gathered in front and chanted “Shafiq must leave!” and “Get out!”

Shafiq told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Imbaba residents were the ones who had originally invited him to hold the rally in the first place and that he is not a remnant of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), as they allege.

“Every person is free to their own opinion,” Shafiq said, addressing the protesters on stage.

He called on the protesters chanting outside the pavilion to enter and discuss their grievances. Two activists from the April 6 Youth Movement took him up on the offer, but shortly thereafter the protesters' chants grew louder and some began to throw chairs at Shafiq. Bodyguards gathered around Shafiq and he was forced to end the rally.

Former President Hosni Mubarak appointed Shafiq prime minister on 29 January 2011 in response to massive popular protests challenging his rule. Shafiq remained in office for three weeks following Mubarak's resignation. But with revolutionary protesters demanding the removal of all remnants of the Mubarak regime, he was sacked by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in a subsequent cabinet reshuffle.

Shafiq, 70, has largely disappeared from the public spotlight since then. A former commander of the Egyptian air force, he was selected as civil aviation minister in 2002 and served in that position until his appointment as prime minister.

Last month, Shafiq spoke openly about his strong ties with the SCAF.

“We are chummy,” he said, though he denied that the military has endorsed his candidacy for president.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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