Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry said Friday he saw "no reason" why the country's ex-premier Ahmed Shafiq should not run for president.
Shafiq announced on Wednesday that he plans to compete for the post of president in his homeland at next year's election and was preparing to return to Cairo in the coming days.
Just hours after his announcement, however, Shafiq said the United Arab Emirates had barred him from leaving the country.
Shafiq's candidacy could see him stand against current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy but looks all but certain to run in and dominate the election next year.
Shoukry suggested there may be legal issues which prevent Shafiq from running in the 2018 vote, but said that if they had been resolved there was nothing to stop him throwing his hat in the ring.
"I see no reason why he should not run," he said at a summit on the Mediterranean in Rome.
"I say that as a layman. I know he had some issues with the judiciary, I'm not sure if they have been resolved, but in principle he is free to represent himself to the electorate.
"As in any society, it's up to the electorate to decide."
Shafiq, who was put on trial in absentia on corruption charges after narrowly losing the 2012 election to former president Mohamed Morsi, emerged as a critic and possible contender to Sisi in the past two years.
The former prime minister was acquitted, and his lawyer had said he would be free to return, but it is thought that he fears another case might be brought against him.
Shoukry was possibly alluding to prosecution investigations that have not been referred to trial.
Sisi, a former army chief elected as president in 2014 less than a year after overthrowing Morsi, lauded his experience in the military and as an aviation minister under former president Hosni Mubarak.
Shafiq could represent one of the few candidates who can come close to challenging Sisi.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team