Cairo: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-army chief who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected Islamist President, today won a landslide victory bagging over 96 per cent votes in the presidential polls that strengthened the military’s grip on power in the deeply polarised nation.
Sisi, 59, won at least 23.9 million votes with an overwhelming number of Egyptians choosing the retired Field Marshal over his only electoral rival Hamdeen Sabbahi, who won less than four per cent, according to provisional results.
Voter turnout in the polls was low at 47 per cent despite the government extending the polling for a third day. The turnout was lower than the election that brought Mohammed Morsi to power in 2012.
A surprise in the 2014 presidential race was the number of invalidated votes – exceeding 1 million.
Although the results are announced by the judges supervising polling centres across the country, they are still considered unofficial as they must be verified and then announced by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC).
Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the PEC’s general secretariat, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that the official results will be announced either on Sunday or Monday.
Sisi’s victory had long been predicted.
As the results began to come in, Egyptians took to the streets and stayed until the early hours of this morning to celebrate, waving Sisi’s campaign posters and bringing traffic to a standstill.
A spokesman for Sisi’s campaign thanked the “Egyptian people for putting their trust in Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi”.
The polling was held on Monday and Tuesday but apparently due to a low voter turnout the PEC added a third day of voting yesterday.
The presidential election was the second since the January 25, 2011, revolution that led to the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
This was the first foreign-monitored election in Egypt’s history. The European Union had 150 monitors across Egypt.
The African Union and the Arab League also observed the elections.
In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi won in a runoff with 52 per cent, just over 13 million votes. The turnout was 51 percent.
Sisi deposed President Morsi last July after mass protests. He has overseen a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement in which more than 1,400 people have been killed and 16,000 detained.
The Brotherhood boycotted the vote, as did many liberal and secular activist groups.
The Islamist movement rejected the vote today with Tariq al-Zumar, a senior member of the Brotherhood, calling the process a “theatrical play which did not convince anybody”.
Sisi has vowed to improve the country’s situation in two years if things go as per his plan, but said he would quit if there were protests against him.
He is popular among Egyptians who supported the army’s decision to remove Morsi from power.
His supporters see him as the kind of strongman needed to end the turmoil dogging Egypt since a popular uprising ended Mubarak’s three decades of one-man rule in 2011.
But Sisi is reviled by the Islamist opposition, which sees him as the mastermind of a coup against an elected leader and the author of a fierce crackdown on dissent.
Egypt has been rocked by more than three years of political turmoil that toppled two presidents after massive street protests, a deadly crackdown on Islamist protesters and a spate of militant attacks that has left the economy in a shambles.