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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Egypt votes for its new President since Mohamed Morsy’s ouster

Egyptians head to the polling statins to vote for the new
(Image: Reuters)
On Monday 26 May Egyptians headed to the polling stations throughout the country in a first presidential election since the Muslim Brotherhood backed President Mohamed Morsy was ousted by military in July 2013 after the massive anti-Morsy protests. This elections was expected to be attended by an unprecedented number of Egyptians, as the long period of transition brought many internal economic, social and security problems for the country, and people of Egypt really seek stability and development.

Egyptian former Defense Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi was a favorite of the presidential campaign, as he enjoyed an overwhelming support of many Egyptians in Egypt and abroad and is associated in the minds of many people with the possibility to restore stability and order in the country and to eliminate the negative consequences of the previous period of Muslim Brotherhood rule, which many Egyptians see as a failure now.

The second contender for the presidential position is Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi, who ran for President during the previous elections, where he took the third place. Hamdeen Sabbahi is considered being a representative of the January 25 Revolution and a liberal and civilian President and enjoys support of predominantly young voters, who actively participated in January 25 Revolution.
Supporters of Hamdeen Sabahi
(Image: Daily News Egypt)

Muslim Brotherhood though rejected the election and called on its supporters to boycott them. Alliance if Support of Legitimacy, demanding Mohamed Morsy to be reinstated as Egypt’s President, stated that they will totally boycott the polls and called on their supporters to do the same, as this election is a part of a coup of military in Egypt.

Thus, Egyptian presidential elections have started on Monday, 26 May, and were planned to be held during two days, but voting time was extended till Wednesday according to the last-minute decision of PEC (Presidential Elections Committee).

Comparing to the previous national polls and elections held in Egypt during the latest years this election passed relatively calm and smooth, with no serious clashes and protests and without violence. There were no militant attacks frequented for Egypt today, since the ouster of Mohamed Morsy. There were only several minor clashes between the army and security forces and supporters of Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Morsy. Several small rallies were held in Cairo, Alexandria and Upper Egypt Minya, but these rallies were dispersed by the police forces.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi support in Cairo
(Image: Reuters)
One bomb exploded on Monday close to the polling station in Fayoum and six other explosive devices were diffused by the police in several governorates of Egypt including Giza and Nile Delta Kafr El-Sheikh. Small bomb exploded on Tuesday in Cairo’s upscale district of Heliopolis, injuring one person. But, comparing to the previous elections, these polls passed smooth and calm.

It’s worth mentioning also that the polling stations were guarded by the military and security forces, as heavy military and police presence was noticed at the polling stations and around them. Unprecedented security measures were taken also in order to ensure security and order during the day of elections.

But while the numbers of Egyptian expats, who cast their ballots during the election one week earlier, were really high and General Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi garnered more than 94% of votes, Egyptian polling stations experienced really low voters’ turnout during two days of elections. Nearly 14 thousand polling stations have been working all over the country and the voting time was extended till the late night on some of the stations. But the turnout was anyway low, while the representatives of the presidential campaigns of the both candidates and some observers claimed the turnout was rather moderate than law.

Egyptians voting for the new President
(Image: The Cairo Post)
Long queues of people willing to vote were reported at some polling stations, while the others remained almost deserted, especially during the second day of the voting. Observers and representatives of the election’s commissions claimed that voters’ turnout in some governorates was not higher than 20%, what makes the results of this presidential election doubted and threatens to disrupt the whole voting process with the necessity to organize another election later.

PEC and Egypt’s Cabinet of Ministers, headed by Ibrahim Mehleb, have announced that Tuesday will be a public weekend, in order to encourage Egyptians to come and vote and to boost the voters’ turnout. But despite this fact the turnout remained relatively low on the second day as well.

Both presidential campaigns, the one of Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi and of Hamdeen Sabahi, reported some violations during the elections, including campaigning during the day of voting, preventing members of the presidential campaigns from entering the polling stations etc. But generally the election process went smooth and without major and serious electoral violations.

Both of the candidates in their turn encouraged Egyptians to come to the polling stations and to cast their votes for the new President of the country. Many explain low turnout of the voters with the dissatisfaction of Egyptians, especially youth, with the current developments in the politics, as the goals of January 25 Revolution aren’t achieved and seems to be betrayed, as there are actually no candidates representing the ideas of January 25 Revolution, which has overthrown Egypt’s long-standing President Hosni Mubarak. Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists also claim that youth is disappointed and that’s why massively boycotts this election.
Celebratory moods during Egyptian presidential elections
(Image: The Cairo Street)

Fearing the disruption of electoral process, Egypt’s PEC has taken a decision late on Tuesday to extend voting for the third day in order to give the possibility for those Egyptians who couldn’t vote, to cast their ballots. Many explain the lower turnout with the heat and insufficient number of polling stations. Thus, voting will continue on Wednesday, 28 May, as well, but unlike Tuesday Wednesday is an ordinary working day. But it’s worth mentioning that many Egyptian activists and observers and international organizations observing Egyptian elections stated that decision is a serious violation of the electoral laws and procedures and denounced it. IN addition to that, both presidential contenders, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Hamdeen Sanbahi filed official complaints to PEC against the decision to extend the voting till Wednesday.

Elections in Egypt continued for the third day with a relatively low turnout, and the polling stations closed in the evening. Counting of ballots is underway and close to an end, and according to the preliminary results, General Andel-Fattah El-Sisi wins the elections with more than 97% of votes, while his rival Hamdeen Sabahi won the remaining 3% of votes. Official results of the elections are yet to be announced by the PEC.