CAIRO — Egypt's presidential candidate and former Hosni Mubarak premier, Ahmed Shafiq, on Sunday tried to establish his democratic credentials and said his Muslim Brotherhood rival would bring back the "dark ages".

Shafiq urged Egyptians "to choose for Egypt a president who will make it a country for all, not a state for one faction."

The ex-air force commander, who will face the Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi in a presidential run-off later this month, said Egypt under his leadership would respect human rights.

"No one will be detained for their opinion... Security services will be committed to the law and to human rights standards," Shafiq told a news conference.

"I represent a secular state... the Brotherhood represents a sectarian state."

"I represent progress and light, they represent backwardness and darkness," he said.

Shafiq said he would strive for a "modern, civil, fair state" while the Muslim Brotherhood will "take it to the dark ages."

Shafiq gained support as a candidate in the country's first post-revolt presidential election thanks to a strong law-and-order campaign in a country where many crave stability.

But the ex-air force commander, who served as the last prime minister under ousted president Mubarak, is reviled by activists who spearheaded the 2011 revolt.