Published On: Thu, May 29th, 2014
MainBlock / NEWS | By bmcsr | عدد المشاهدات 2,058

Al-Sisi Wins Egyptian Presidential Election

 Detailed election results: 

27,668,183 total votes
1,764,195 voided ballots
Hamdeen Sabahi        854,634 
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi  23,789,354 

 

More information:

Voter turnout after two days of Egypt’s presidential elections was about 37 percent, an electoral official said Tuesday. The lower-than-expected turnout threatened to damage the credibility of the man widely forecast to win, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“Poor backing in the election in his deeply polarized country would mean Sisi’s legitimacy as head of state of the Arab world’s most popular nation would be harmed at home, in the Middle East and in the wider world,” Reuters news agency reported.

On social media, Egyptians were posting pictures of empty polling stations, while a front-page headline in privately owned al-Masry al-Youm newspaper said: “The state searches for a vote.”

Sisi’s campaign attempted to distance itself from the vote extension, announcing that he had objected to the decision. The campaign of his opponent, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, also announced its objection to a third day of voting.

The decision to extend the voting by a day may prove to be a strategic blunder unless much larger numbers of Egyptians turn up to vote. Commentators have perceived the decision as a last-minute struggle to win more votes in favor of Sisi.

Three years after the historic uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the vote was set to restore a pattern of rule by men from the military after Sisi last July toppled Egypt’s first freely elected leader: Mohammad Mursi, a member of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood.

 

The former head of Egypt’s armed forces, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, came to prominence as a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which governed after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

He resigned from the military on 26 March 2014 in order to run for president.

This came nine months after he helped to topple the previous president, Mohammed Morsi, who had made him commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

A central figure in the army-backed post-Morsi interim government, Mr Sisi became the object of almost cult-like popular devotion, while showing adeptness as a political tactician.

In February, the Scaf gave him the green light to stand for president, in what it said was a response to the “desire of the masses”.

At the same time, interim President Adly Mansour promoted him from general to field marshal – Egypt’s top military post.

Support

Mr Sisi launched his election campaign under the slogan “Long Live Egypt”, outlining an ambitious plan to develop agriculture, housing, education and impoverished areas and boost employment through “hard work by him and Egyptians alike”.

On his plans to combat poverty, he pledged Egyptians would see a better standard of living within two years of him being in power. He called on the private and public sectors to help the poor by opting for “lower profit margins”, otherwise the army itself would offer high quality goods at lower prices.

Supporters of Mr Sisi watch a screen in Cairo showing his first television interview

He has also said his victory would mean the Muslim Brotherhood’s time would be “finished” and that the discourse of Islamists had to be “rectified”.

Mr Sisi’s campaign is better-funded than that of rival candidate Hamdeen Sabahi due to the backing of a number of prominent businessmen.

Those who have declared their support include al-Dawa al-Salafiya (The Salafist Call), the Salafist Nour Party, the liberal Free Egyptians Party and the liberal New Wafd Party.

Mr Sisi appears to be genuinely popular. Far from being a stern military figure, he has a softly-spoken but charismatic presence, often seen smiling and known for emotional speeches. At a concert in 2012, his words famously had artists on the stage with him in tears.

Many Egyptians see in him the strong leader needed to overcome the instability that has beset Egypt since the mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square ended Hosni Mubarak’s long rule in 2011.

But his ascendancy has left some worrying that it heralds a return to the authoritarian security state that prevailed under Mr Mubarak, rendering the Tahrir Square revolution a brief experiment in democracy.

Only a day before the army backed Mr Sisi’s rumoured presidential ambitions, the interim government rearranged the post-Morsi authorities’ “roadmap” to democracy to ensure that the presidential election will be held before parliamentary polls, and not after, as had been initially intended.

The move left some fearing that the new timetable will allow Mr Sisi to use a likely landslide victory to cement near-complete control over the political system.

Fall of Islamists

Mr Morsi’s decision to appoint Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as army chief in 2012 was then actually seen as an attempt to reclaim power from the military, which had assumed interim control after President Mubarak’s fall.

The following year, nationwide protests erupted against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government, motivated by anger at at a perceived drift towards greater Islamist influence on public life, as well as continuing economic hardship.

After months of mounting pressure on the government, Gen Sisi effectively delivered the coup de grace with a televised ultimatum warning that the army would intervene if the government did not respond to “the will of the people” and end the crisis within 48 hours.

Hours later, army helicopters threw thousands of Egyptian flags over anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square. The cheering crowds responded with chants of “the people and the army are one hand”.

But Mr Sisi’s rise has not been without controversy.

He is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people killed in the authorities’ crackdown on Islamists since the ousting of President Morsi in July 2013.

Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters are believed to have been killed in August 2013, when security forces stormed two protest camps in Cairo set up by supporters of Mr Morsi demanding his reinstatement.

The crackdown in Cairo sparked a wave of violence across the country after pro-Morsi supporters attacked government buildings and dozens of Coptic Christian churches were burnt, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency.

More people have been killed since the military launched a major campaign against suspected Islamist militants in northern Sinai in September 2013.

The exact figure is not known but the Muslim Brotherhood said in August 2013 up to 2,200 of its supporters had been killed in the crackdown.

Aside from the bloodshed, in April 2012 Mr Sisi also hit the headlines with a statement that appeared to defend “virginity tests” carried out on 17 women detained and beaten by soldiers at an anti-Mubarak protest in Tahrir Square in March 2011.

Gen Sisi said the tests had been done “to protect the girls from rape, and the soldiers and officers from accusations of rape”.

Scaf quickly distanced itself from the comments, and Gen Sisi quickly promised to abolish such tests, but the incident was a blow to the military’s image.

Military career

Despite a long military career, Mr Sisi has little actual combat experience, latterly specialising mainly in military intelligence. On his appointment as army chief, he was the youngest member of Scaf.

Born in Cairo on 19 November 1954, he served in the infantry after graduating from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977, rising to command a mechanised division.

He went on to serve as information and security chief at the Defence Ministry general secretariat, military attache in Saudi Arabia, chief-of-staff and then commander of Egypt’s Northern Military Zone, before being appointed head of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance.

 

As Egypt scrambles to boost voter turnout in the country’s presidential poll by extending voting to a third day, a fun phenomenon across the country has not gone unnoticed.

Videos of Egyptian men, women and children dancing outside polling stations are being widely shared on the Internet, with most commentators linking the ecstatic scenes to the wave of pro-military fervor the country has witnessed in recent months.

With former army chief Abel Fattah al-Sisi expected to win in a landslide as he contends with leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, a strong voter turnout would have been seen as a strong mandate for Sisi’s rule.

But as Egypt election officials announced that voter turnout for Monday and Tuesday was at a lower-than-expected 37 percent, videos of the dance phenomenon are perhaps one of the main indicators of Egyptian pro-Sisi excitement – especially as many of those dancing brandish images and posters of the army chief.

“We dance for Sisi, we dance for Egypt,” 52-year-old Mona el-Ennawy told Al Arabiya News, adding she herself had danced in front a polling station in central Alexandria on Tuesday.

“I went to vote with my husband and sister. In the queue I met neighbors and friends and after we came out from the polling station, there was a group of people playing music and we all started dancing.

“My 7-year-old daughter was with me, we painted C-C on her cheeks like all the other kids,” Mona added.

“By nature we’re a very joyful society,” Ahmed Emad, a political commentator and media blogger, told Al Arabiya News on Wednesday.

“Even in the darkest times, someone always manages to crack a joke to draw a smile on our faces and keep us going through tough situations,” Emad added.

Clinging onto hope

But the fun scenes are also an indicator of Egyptians being hopeful of the future; not only a Sisi presidency, but a future in which turbulent times of political violence and economic gloom are swept away into the past.

“They’re just happy to elect their chosen candidate, in hope of ending this tough three year post-January 25 fiasco,” Emad said, in reference to the 2011 revolution which saw former President Hosni Mubarak ousted from power, paving a way for Islamists to win parliamentary and presidential powers, all while Egyptian society grew increasingly polarized.

Widely regarded Egypt’s de facto leader since he led the ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi last July, Sisi has been the man of the moment.

“People are clinging onto whatever hope there is,” says Charles Holmes, a Middle East analyst with a background in government communications.

“The takeaway from the macro political viewpoint is that there is so much pressure now riding on a Sisi presidency. Their future so strongly tied to what the Sisi presidency is able to achieve is huge.

“This is it, this is the last chance for the country. If this new chapter doesn’t work out, it’s unclear what kind of future Egypt will lead,” Holmes added.

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