Egypt's Sisi wins third term with 89.6% in election
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been re-elected for a third six-year term as Egypt's president, securing 89.6% of the vote in an election where he faced minimal opposition, the National Election Authority confirmed on Monday.
The election occurred amidst Egypt’s economic challenges and the war in neighboring Gaza, which borders the Sinai Peninsula. Sisi’s portrayal as a stability anchor in the region resonated with voters and garnered support from Gulf and Western allies.
The voting process, conducted from December 10-12, saw a turnout of 66.8%, a significant increase from 41% in the 2018 presidential election. This was attributed to extensive state and media efforts to encourage participation. The election included three low-profile candidates, with the most notable potential contender withdrawing in October amid allegations of harassment and intimidation, claims refuted by the election authority. Critics, like Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, dismissed the election as controlled, with Sisi handpicking nominal opponents.
Constitutional Amendments and Sisi's Reign
Since leading the 2013 overthrow of Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Sisi, a former general, has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent. Re-elected in 2014 and 2018 with 97% of the vote each time, constitutional amendments in 2019 extended the presidential term and allowed Sisi to run for a third term. His tenure has been marked by significant infrastructure projects, including a new capital city, and a focus on security. However, these accomplishments are shadowed by the country's growing debt and rising prices.
Sisi's administration has taken steps to address human rights criticisms, initiating a national dialogue and releasing some prominent prisoners. These actions, however, have been labeled superficial by critics. Nourhan ElAbbassy of the pro-Sisi Homat AlWatan party highlighted advancements for women under Sisi’s rule but called for further progress in key government positions and personal rights laws.
Public Sentiment and Voting Irregularities
The election's foregone conclusion led to public indifference, with many Egyptians considering the outcome predetermined. Reuters reporters observed instances of organized transportation to polling stations, nationalistic displays, and quieter voting locations. In Giza, reporters noted basic commodities being distributed to voters, and there were reports of employer pressure and financial incentives for participating in the election. The state media body emphasized that vote-buying is a criminal offense, punishable by fines or imprisonment.