(CNN) -- A former Egyptian Prime Minister and presidential candidate claimed he was being barred from returning to Cairo from the United Arab Emirates in a video statement broadcast late Wednesday on pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.
Ahmed Shafik had recently announced that he would return to his country from the UAE, where he has been living, to run in the upcoming presidential elections against current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
"I was surprised to find I was prevented from leaving the United Arab Emirates, our sister country, for reasons I do not know and I cannot understand," Shafik said. "I repeat my thanks for the gracious hospitality, but I reject any intervention in my country's affairs."
The former Air Force General went into self-imposed exile in the UAE after narrowly losing to the now-ousted Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's 2012 presidential runoff. Shafik was the last prime minister to serve under former strongman leader Hosni Mubarak.
The UAE said it "regrets" Shafik's statement and denied there had been attempts to restrict the 76-year-old's movements.
"We offered him (Ahmed Shafik) all the facilities and duties of hospitality, despite our strong reservations about some of his positions," Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said Wednesday on Twitter. "The UAE affirms that there is no obstacle to the departure of General Ahmed Shafik."
It's the second time this month that a Gulf state has been accused of blocking the return of a political leader to his home country in an attempt to influence its government.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from the Saudi capital of Riyadh on November 4, sparking speculation that he was being held against his will by Saudi Arabia. Hariri denied this and put his resignation on hold upon his return to Beirut more than two weeks later, but his political rivals say he is still beholden to Saudi Arabia.
Shafik's return to Egypt could present a serious challenge to Sisi's bid for a second term. The former military chief has struggled to crush the rise of ISIS-affiliated militants in the Sinai, improve the failing economy, and fix the ailing tourism sector.
"I am certain of my ability along with many of the educated, intellectual, and experts of my country, to overcome the problems we have been suffering," Shafik said in an earlier videotaped statement announcing his intention to run.
"Egypt is not a poor nation. It has all the resources, and if they had been used efficiently, we would have stood in a different position today among the nations of the world."
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