Egypt’s Sisi sweeps vote with 97 percent, turnout down

In this file photo taken on December 11, 2017 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks on during a press conference with his Russian counterpart (unseen) following their talks at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo
AFP

Cairo (AFP) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has secured a second term with 97 percent of valid votes, according to official results announced Monday, at an election last week that saw him face no serious rivals.

The head of the election authority Lasheen Ibrahim said at a press conference that turnout was 41.05 percent of the almost 60 million registered voters.

He said 92.73 percent of the votes were valid from the roughly 24 million cast, while almost two million ballots were spoiled. 

Sisi’s sole rival and an erstwhile ardent supporter, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, won 2.92 percent of the valid votes, Ibrahim said.

Moussa entered the election at the very last moment after first leading a re-election campaign for Sisi, saving the vote from having just one candidate.

Sisi’s serious contenders had withdrawn, been sidelined or detained.

“These are momentous moments for this nation…which will be written in letters of light, under the title: battle for the love of Egypt,” Ibrahim said.

“The entire world heard your chants for the love of Egypt,” he said.

Sisi, who as army chief ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president Islamist Mohamed Morsi after mass street protests in 2013, won his first term in 2014 with 96.9 percent of valid votes.

Turnout of 47 percent in that year’s election was sharply higher than this year’s 41 percent despite appeals from Prime Minister Sherif Ismail for voters to fulfil their patriotic duty.

Nonetheless Sisi has already praised this year’s turnout. 

“The vote by masses of Egypt will remain a testament, no doubt, that our nation’s will imposes itself with strength and knows no weakness,” Sisi said on his Twitter account late Wednesday.

-Opposition boycott-

People who boycotted the election and cannot show a good reason for missing the vote could face a fine of up to 500 Egyptian pounds (22 euros), the electoral commission has warned.

Opposition groups had called for a boycott of last week’s vote which they labelled a facade.

There were no presidential debates and Sisi himself did not appear at any official campaign events, although he spoke at a number of ceremonies.

In an interview days ahead of the vote, Sisi said he wished there were more candidates, denying any role in sidelining his rivals.

He also sought to drive up voter turnout in a speech in the run-up to ballot as he urged Egyptians to back his bid for another four years in office.

“I need you because the journey is not over,” Sisi told a mostly female audience. “I need every lady and mother and sister, please, I need the entire world to see us” voting.

Morsi’s removal in 2013 ushered in a deadly crackdown that killed and jailed hundreds of Islamists. 

The initial crackdown on the ousted leader’s supporters expanded to include liberal and leftist secular activists

A jihadist insurgency since has killed hundreds of policemen and civilians.

Sisi gave the armed forces and police a three-month deadline in November to wipe out the Islamic State group in its Sinai Peninsula stronghold.

The deadline has since been extended, and on February 9 the armed forces launched their most comprehensive campaign yet to end the five-year-old jihadist insurgency.

But attacks by the jihadists have continued.

Sisi has embarked on tough economic reforms that have been welcomed by foreign investors but dented his standing at home, even though his popularity remains high. 

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