Cairo: Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq paid tribute on Saturday to the "glorious revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak, a dramatic turn-around for the former regime official who fought his way into the runoff elections by appealing to public disenchantment with last year`s uprising.
Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, vowed there would be no "recreation of the old regime" as he prepared to face off against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a runoff on June 16-17.
"I am fed up with being labeled `old regime,`" Shafiq told a news conference in his campaign headquarters. "This talk is no longer valid after seven million people voted for me." When pressed on the issue, he said: "All Egyptians are part of the old regime. Why do you keep saying the same thing over and over again?"
Shafiq and Morsi were the top vote-getters after a two-day election on Wednesday and Thursday which none of the 13 candidates could win outright. Now, both must appeal to the roughly 50 per cent of voters who cast ballots for someone else.
Shafiq appeared to use the news conference to try and cast off his image as an anti-revolution candidate who spoke disparagingly about the youth groups that engineered the anti-Mubarak uprising, reaching out to all segments of society in a bid to rally voters who favored his rivals during the first-round.
A former air force commander and a personal friend of Mubarak`s, Shafiq was booted out of office by a wave of street protests shortly after Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011.
The 15 months since Mubarak`s ouster have seen a surge in crime, a faltering economy and seemingly endless street protests, work stoppages and sit-ins. The disorder has fed disenchantment with the revolutionary groups, and may have played to Shafiq`s advanatge.
However, ex-officer Shafiq is also associated with Egypt`s military leadership. The generals who took over from Mubarak, say critics, have mismanaged the transitional period and failed to reform corrupt institutions or to provide security.