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Egypt’s Sisi re-elected amid low voter turnout

An Egyptian voter casts her vote on the second day of the Egyptian presidential elections at a polling station in Faiyum, Egypt on 27 March, 2018 [Ragy Maged/Anadolu Agency]
An Egyptian voter casts her vote on the second day of the Egyptian presidential elections at a polling station in Faiyum, Egypt on 27 March, 2018 [Ragy Maged/Anadolu Agency]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been re-elected with an estimated 97 per cent of the vote, the exact proportion that brought the former military general to his first term four years ago, the Egyptian election commission announced yesterday.

However, voter turnout at the election last week was lower than in 2014, at only 41 per cent of the population, despite election authorities threatening to fine on those who did not take part in the vote.

Al-Sisi’s victory had been all but guaranteed after the majority of opposition leaders pulled out of the race, leaving only one adversary, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, who had previously voiced support for the former general.

Even before campaigning officially begun, the UN, human rights groups and opposition figures criticised the run-up as compromised by arrests, intimidation of opponents and a nomination process stacked in favour of the incumbent.

Read: Egyptians in Sinai queue for bread, not ballots

Several opposition figures called for a boycott of the vote after all major opposition campaigns withdrew, saying repression had cleared the field of credible challengers.

Egypt’s Sisi warns opponents as calls to boycott election build - - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt’s Sisi warns opponents as calls to boycott election build –
Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Critics say Al-Sisi’s popularity has been hurt by austerity reforms and a muzzling of opponents, activists and independent media since his 2014 election. Courts have passed death sentences on hundreds of supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood party since 2013.

In an attempt to encourage higher vote participation, food was distributed at election centres, while in other areas voters were given 50 Egyptian pounds ($2.83). The mayor of Mersa Matruh has said 500 residents will receive free trips to performe umrah, lesser pilgrimage, in Saudi Arabia.

Ousted President Hosni Mubarak was also escorted by security to cast his vote late last week. The spokesperson of the National Election Authority (NEA), Mahmoud El-Sherif, told Sada Al-Balad, that “former president Mubarak’s vote in the presidential election is valid as long as his name was included in the voters’ database.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi is being held in Tora Prison under conditions which do not meet “Egyptian or international” standards, according to a British Parliamentary Committee report. According to his family, his health is rapidly deteriorating as he is continually denied basic care.

Read: Muslim Brotherhood celebrates ‘90 years of giving’

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