Monday is election day in Egypt. Former army General Abdul Fatah el-Sisi, the man who dethroned former Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, is squaring off against left-wing candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who finished third in the 2012 election.
Polls suggest Sisi is expected to become Egypt’s next president. For the past ten months, Sisi was the chief decision maker for Egypt.
Sisi was optimistic about his chances. “The Egyptians are coming out to write their history and chart their future,” he said.
While Sisi is expected to win by a landslide, the general’s focus is on voter turnout. The more votes Sisi receives, the easier it will likely become to carry out his policies with strong support from his countrymen and women.
Egyptians in Cairo hit the polls early. An hour before polls opened, Cairo’s residents were lined up in a lengthy queue.
When polled, Egyptians’ number one concern is the security of their nation. Many agree that this worry stems from former President Mohamed Morsi’s policies. Many were concerned Morsi’s political ideology was aligned with Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorist groups in Egypt. The former Egyptian President reportedly met with Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri and promised to bring him back to Egypt. As one of his first acts as President, Morsi released Zawahiri’s brother Muhammad from prison. The Muslim Brotherhood leader also called upon the United States to release the “Blind Sheikh”, the man responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and bring him home to Egypt. Morsi is now on trial for multiple charges stemming from his Presidential tenure.
Egypt’s security uncertainty has created the conditions for a stagnant economy. One of Egypt’s main revenue streams comes in the form of tourism. Visitors’ concerns over the security environment has dissuaded many from venturing to the North African state.
The candidates have starkly contrasting views on dealing with their neighbor Israel. Sisi has expressed multiple times that he will uphold the peace treaty with Israel. He also said he would continue security cooperation with the Jewish state to combat terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula. Sabahi, on the other hand, believes that “the Zionists are our enemy.” Sabahi’s campaign manager said Sabahi would support anyone “who fights the Zionist enemy.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is now marked a terrorist group in Egypt, has urged its followers to boycott the elections. Many worry the Muslim Brotherhood may turn to violent action following its failure to secure power through the ballot box.