For opponents, he is a symbol of Egypt’s old guard under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
Hence protests after the country’s supreme court upheld former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s right to stand in this weekend’s run-off presidential election.
Shafiq himself, a ex-military man appointed premier in the last days of Mubarak’s rule, was delighted at the verdict, hailing it as “historic”.
“The era of political score settling has ended,” he told jubilant supporters, pledging to end chaos and restore stability.
In another controversial move, the court ruled to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament, saying that it was elected amid rules that violated the constitution. The decision was made despite the poll being the first free and fair vote in Egypt for decades.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy pledged to press ahead with his presidential bid, regardless. He warned that any fraud would spark an uprising until the goals of the revolution that ousted Mubarak are fully achieved.
Our correspondent in Cairo, Riad Muisses, says that the Constitutional Court’s decision means deadlock in the upper and lower houses of parliament on the eve of the presidential election.
“That is going to further deepen Egypt’s political crisis,” he says.