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Shafiq promises 'new era' for Egypt

Ahead of his crucial presidential run-off against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi next month, Egypt's former premier Ahmed Shafiq has promised a 'new era' to his countrymen as he paid rich tributes to the 'glorious revolution' that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

'Your revolution has been hijacked and I am committed to bringing (it) back,' 70-year-old Shafiq said, referring to youth groups that engineered the 2011 uprising that ousted Mubarak.

Thanking Egyptians who 'answered his call' and voted for him, Shafiq said the elections would not have happened without the glorious 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,' he told journalists as he tried to shed his image as an anti-revolution candidate.

'We have had a glorious revolution. I pay tribute to this glorious revolution and pledge to be faithful to its call for justice and freedom.'

Shafiq dedicated a part of his address to Egypt's young people, specifically 'the April 6 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 had appeared on television and mockingly offered the protesters candy if they would go home.

Shafiq 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,' he said last evening.

Meanwhile, a close aide of former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was on Sunday jailed for seven years by a criminal court on charges of corruption. Zakaria Azmi, was also asked to pay a fine of USD 6.05 million for misusing power.
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