Cairo: Ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was assured today of an overwhelming victory in Egypt’s presidential election, securing 96.2 of the vote with most of the ballots counted.
At least 21 million voters, or 96.2 per cent chose the retired field marshal, who deposed the elected Islamist
president Mohamed Morsi last July, with the ballots counted from 312 of 352 counting stations, state television reported.
His victory had never been in doubt with the main Islamist opposition crushed since Morsi’s ouster.
Sisi’s only electoral rival, leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi, received 3.8 per cent of the votes counted.
Sisi rode on a wave of support for a potential strongman who can restore stability after several years of tumult.
Hundreds of his supporters took to the streets waving Egyptian flags, setting off fire works and honking their car horns.
“It’s a victory for stability,” said Tahra Khaled, who joined the crowd celebrating in the iconic Tahrir Square, the nerve centre of mass protests that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The army-installed government and Sisi were eyeing a large turnout as an endorsement of the overthrow of Islamist president last year, and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters.
Voting had been scheduled to end on Tuesday, but was extended for an extra day in a last minute decision that sparked protests from Sabbahi, a leftist politician who came in third in the 2012 election Morsi won.
An election committee official said turnout has “surpassed 25 million (46 per cent)” out of almost 54 million registered voters, the official Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website.
The move to extend polling for a day fuelled criticism of an election already marred by a deadly crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
An electoral official had said after Tuesday’s voting, when the election had originally been scheduled to end, turnout was around 37 per cent, well below the 52 per cent of voters who cast their ballots in the 2012 election which Morsi won.
Sisi had appealed for a large turnout, seeking vindication for his overthrow of Morsi, Egypt’s only freely elected president, after a single turbulent year in power.
Sisi had urged “40, 45 (million) or even more” to give credibility to an election boycotted by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and secular opposition groups.
After reports of meagre numbers at polling stations on the first day of voting Monday, Sisi’s backers in the state-run media appealed to people to get out and vote.