Media outlets and international groups have condemned former army chief and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s re-election victory on Thursday, calling it a “sham” for including only a meager opposition presence and obstacles to getting on the ballot.
With 92 percent of the votes recorded, Sisi has been re-elected for a second term and another four years in office. Sisi ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.
In 2017, the House of Representatives introduced legislation to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in the United States. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have already done so.
The Washington Post referred to Sisi’s victory as a “sham election.” The Guardian wrote, “Egyptian president wins second term after purge of challengers.” And the Telegraph wrote, “The Egyptian leader faced no real competition in the election and preliminary figures show he won around 90 per cent of the vote. … But turnout was only around 40 percent compared to 47 percent four years ago.”
“Threats and bribes help Sisi to 92 percent of Egypt vote,” wrote the Times of London.
The United Nations and various rights groups reportedly also criticized Sisi’s reelection bid over a series of arrests of potential presidential candidates, as well as reported incidents of intimidation against individuals considering running against Sisi.
Reuters reported, “The Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition political coalition, sharply criticized Sisi on Feb. 2 for a speech in which he warned off anyone seeking to challenge his rule and said the events of 2011, which toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, would never happen again.”
In January, Sisi’s top opponent, former military chief of staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan, was arrested and canceled his presidential bid after being released; he had previously announced he was running against Sisi.
The AFP reported, “In January, a coalition of eight opposition parties and 150 public figures called for a boycott of the election, branding it a “charade.”
The only opponent Sisi faced was a last-minute candidate Mousa Mostafa Mousa, who leads a party that had endorsed Sisi for re-election and organized political events on his behalf days before he entered the race.
Days before the elections, Sisi lamented the lack of candidates to challenge him, saying, “You are blaming me for something that I have nothing to do with” in an interview that was aired on major Egyptian channels. “I swear to God, I wished 1,2,3 or even 10 distinguished people [ran] and you choose. We are not ready, isn’t it a shame … we have more than 100 parties, nominate someone.”
According to Al-Ahram, a government-run newspaper, there were 23 million valid votes cast. In addition to this, two million voters reportedly spoiled their ballot papers by inserting the names of candidates who were not among the only two approved, the AFP reported.
According to the AFP, “Boycotters who cannot show good reason for not going to the polls could a face a fine of up to 500 Egyptian pounds (22 euros), the electoral commission has warned.” The government did not specifically define “good reason” not to vote.
However, at least one foreign policy analyst who was in Egypt for the historic election said his first-hand experience there solidified his belief that bias in the journalistic and NGO community in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“From the last week, it’s plain to me that there is far more hatred for Sisi and support for the Muslim Brotherhood within the NGO and journalist community abroad than in Egypt,” David Reaboi, founder of the Security Studies Group, tweeted.