CAIRO – Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister and loser of the presidential runoff, left Egypt Tuesday with most of his family for the United Arab Emirates hours after the prosecutor general opened an investigation into allegations he wasted public funds during his 8-year term as a civil aviation minister in the ousted regime.
An airport official said Shafiq flew to Abu Dhabi at dawn with two of his three daughters and three grandchildren. His campaign told the daily al-Masry al-Youm that he left for a short visit and he will return after doing a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The campaign said he was planning to start a new political party.
The United Arab Emirates has offered a haven to other members of Mubarak's old regime. Earlier this month, the most senior old regime figure not jailed or on trial, former spy chief and Vice President Omar Suleiman, left for Abu Dhabi.
Shafiq's old boss Mubarak is serving a life sentence in prison after being convicted of failing to stop the killing of hundreds of protesters in the 18-day uprising last year that forced the authoritarian president out of power. Other senior figures of the regime are also either in jail or on trial for a variety of alleged abuses of power during Mubarak's three decades as president.
Shafiq was narrowly defeated for the presidency by Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose members were banned, repressed, jailed and tortured under Mubarak's regime. The results of the race were announced late Sunday afternoon.
On Monday, the prosecutor general opened an investigation into the corruption allegations and Egyptian media reports said he had been expected to be interrogated over the allegations in the coming days.
The daily Al Shorouk reported that there are at least 24 lawsuits filed against Shafiq, and that a judge planned to summon him for questioning over 11 of the suits. But the decision was postponed until the Ministry of Aviation provides documentation related to the lawsuits.
During his presidential campaign, Shafiq denied all corruption allegations. After the country's election commission announced the presidential results on Sunday, he posted a video clip on his campaign Facebook page recognizing the election results, congratulating Morsi, and urging him to treat the losing camp's supporters fairly.
"We have confidence that there will be no settling of scores," he said in the video. He also referred indirectly to the corruption allegations by saying: "I have faced painful tests and suffered from tarnishing campaigns."