Middle East

Egypt election: Sisi set to win second term as president

A supporter of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi makes a victory gesture outside a polling station in Giza, Cairo (28 March 2018) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Supporters of President Sisi celebrated even before the polls closed on Wednesday

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has been re-elected for a second four-year term, preliminary results suggest.

State media said Mr Sisi had secured a landslide victory against his sole challenger, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, winning more than 90% of the vote.

But initial estimates placed turnout among the 60 million eligible voters at about 41% - below that seen in 2014.

Opposition figures had called for a boycott after several potential candidates withdrew or were arrested.

Mr Sisi led the military's overthrow of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Since then, he has overseen what human rights groups say is an unprecedented crackdown on dissent that has led to the detention of tens of thousands of people.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Sisi faced only one challenger after several others dropped out or were arrested

With Mr Sisi's re-election appearing certain before voting began on Monday, many analysts said turnout would be an important measure of his legitimacy.

It was 47% at the last election in 2014, when Mr Sisi won 97% of the vote.

The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Thursday that Mr Sisi had won 92% of the 25 million ballots cast.

Mr Moussa - a little-known party leader who had supported the president's re-election until his last-minute decision to enter the race - got 3%, it added.

A source told Al-Ahram that 5% of the ballots had been spoiled, including by voters inserting the names of candidates not among the two approved.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption More people appear to have spoiled their ballots than voted for Moussa Mustafa Moussa

In an attempt to boost turnout on the final day of voting on Wednesday, the election commission kept polling stations open for an extra hour.

It also warned that people who did not vote would be fined 500 Egyptian pounds ($28; £20) - a threat rarely acted upon in previous polls.

There were also reports that some people were offered incentives of money and food to cast their ballots, or promised improved public services.

A spokeswoman for the Sisi campaign told the BBC that it was a "one million per cent democratic process".

She said: "The evidence is that all the Egyptian people, including big numbers of youths and elderly, have come out to vote."

Mr Sisi hailed the participation of Egyptians in the polls on Wednesday night, saying it reflected "the greatness of the country".

"The votes of Egyptian masses will certainly remain a witness that our nation's will is strongly prevailing," a statement on his Facebook page said.

The final results are expected to be announced on Monday.

Last month, 14 human rights groups dismissed the poll as "farcical". They said the authorities had "trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections", stifling basic freedoms and eliminating key challengers.

Three potential candidates dropped out of the race, while a fourth - a former military chief - was arrested and accused of running for office without permission.

Mr Sisi insisted last week that the withdrawals were not his doing, telling an Egyptian TV channel: "I wish we had one, or two, or three, or 10 of the best people and you choose however you want."

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