Egypt`s Shafiq promises `new era`
Cairo: Egypt`s former premier Ahmed Shafiq on Sunday pledged there would be "no turning back" to the old regime and the revolution would be restored as he reaches out to his rivals ahead of a crucial presidential run-off against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi on June 16-17.
"Your revolution has been hijacked and I am committed to bringing (it) back," Shafiq told youth groups that engineered the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Thanking Egyptians who "answered his call" and voted for him, Shafiq said the elections would not have happened without the revolution and those who made sacrifices and died for it.
There would be "no turning back", said Shafiq, the former prime minister of the toppled leader.
"I promise all Egyptians we will start a new era. There will be no return. We do not want to reproduce the old regime. The past is dead," Shafiq told journalists as he tries to shed his image as an anti-revolution candidate.
Shafiq dedicated a part of his address to Egypt`s young people, specifically "the 6 April Youth Movement and the Ultras (hardcore football fans who`ve had a prominent presence in protests over the past year and a half), who want decent youth centers."
He said, "The revolution has been stolen out of your hands. I promise to return to you its fruits."
During the 18-day uprising last January, Shafiq appeared on television and mockingly offered the protesters candy if they would go home.
He had since referred to the revolution as "unfortunate".
In the conference, he also thanked the army for ensuring fair elections, which "reaffirmed their historic role".
"Egyptian citizens: At the start of the manifesto I announced during the first round of elections, I promised security. Your millions of votes say that you want that and do not want our country to sink into chaos. My promise to restore security still applies, according to the law and with respect for human rights."
Shafiq also promised job opportunities, social justice, "acceptable" healthcare, comprehensive social insurance and development. He said that these goals would only be attained "if there is stability".
Addressing his political opponents, Shafiq said he is "open to dialogue" with all political forces while at the same time being "determined" to build an "alliance with the people".
In an interview with Al-Hayat satellite channel, Shafiq said he wouldn`t mind the Brotherhood forming a cabinet if he is elected president.
Shafiq said his presidential race is motivated not by ambitions for power but by a desire to "take Egypt into a new era".
Shafiq and Morsi were the top vote-getters after a two-day election on Wednesday and Thursday. The run-off is scheduled on June 16 and 17.
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