Sisi strolls to easy election win

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected with 97% of the vote, the same proportion the former military commander secured four years ago for his first term, official results showed.

Turnout was lower at 41%, despite efforts to get as many Egyptians as possible to polling stations during last week’s vote. Sisi was virtually guaranteed a landslide win, confirmed by early tallies when voting closed on Wednesday.

The election featured only one other candidate – himself an ardent Sisi supporter – after all serious opposition contenders halted their campaigns in January. The main challenger was arrested and his campaign manager beaten up, while other presidential hopefuls pulled out, citing intimidation.

Sisi said he wanted more candidates to run and he had nothing to do with opposition withdrawals.

The election commission said the vote was free and fair as it gave the results in a televised announcement on Monday.

The lower turnout is a potential setback for Sisi, who suggested before the vote he saw it as a referendum on his presidency rather than a genuine contest. Turnout in the 2014 vote that won him his first term was 47%.

State media portrayed failure to vote as a betrayal of Egypt. Some voters said they were offered incentives including money and food to cast ballots, local and international media reported, but did not say who made the offers.

Officials said if any such incidents took place they were not state-sponsored and extremely limited.

CRITICISM

Critics say former general Sisi’s popularity eroded amid tough economic reforms, which sees most Egyptians worse off and an unprecedented crackdown on dissent.

Supporters say those measures are needed to stabilise the country, which faces a stubborn Islamic State insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula and was rocked by unrest after a 2011 uprising that ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after protests against him. Sisi swept to victory in an election a year later with 97% of the vote.

The United Nations expressed concern over the crackdown on dissent, including media, before last week’s vote.

Sisi’s main Western and regional allies have been mostly silent over alleged human rights abuses in Egypt.

During voting last week, the US embassy in Cairo said on Twitter it was “impressed by the enthusiasm and patriotism of Egyptian voters”.



Russia congratulated Sisi on his election win ahead of the official results.