Egypt: El-Sissi wins election by landslide

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FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, Egypt’s military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia. The election of Egypt’s former military chief to the nation’s presidency may be remembered for its central irony: He won in a historic landslide — only to shatter his image of invulnerability in the process. El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but what the retired 59-year-old field marshal wanted was an overwhelming turnout that would accord legitimacy to his July ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president — the Islamist Mohammed Morsi — and show critics at home and abroad that his action reflected the will of the people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, Egypt’s military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia. The election of Egypt’s former military chief to the nation’s presidency may be remembered for its central irony: He won in a historic landslide — only to shatter his image of invulnerability in the process. El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but what the retired 59-year-old field marshal wanted was an overwhelming turnout that would accord legitimacy to his July ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president — the Islamist Mohammed Morsi — and show critics at home and abroad that his action reflected the will of the people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

In this Wednesday, May 28, 2014 photo, election workers count ballots at a counting center in Cairo, Egypt. With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday. The campaign of retired field marshal El-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi. (AP Photo/Lobna Tarek, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

In this Wednesday, May 28, 2014 photo, an election worker counts ballots at a counting center in Cairo, Egypt. With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday. The campaign of retired field marshal El-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi. (AP Photo/Lobna Tarek, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

In this Wednesday, May 28, 2014 photo, an election worker displays an invalid ballot at a counting center in Cairo, Egypt. With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday. The campaign of retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi. (AP Photo/Ahmed Abdel Fattah, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

In this Wednesday, May 28, 2014 photo, an election worker displays two ballots with a check mark in front of presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s name at a counting center in Cairo, Egypt. With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday. The campaign of retired field marshal El-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi. (AP Photo/Ahmed Abdel Fattah, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

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CAIRO (AP) — With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday.

The campaign of retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi.

El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but the career infantry officer, also 59, had hoped for a strong turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last July of Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

According to el-Sissi’s campaign, the turnout nationwide was around 44 percent, even after voting was extended for a third day Wednesday — well below the nearly 52 percent turnout in the June 2012 election won by Morsi.

Still, el-Sissi can genuinely claim he comes into office with an impressive vote tally — his campaign said he won 23.38 million votes. That’s significantly more than the 13 million that Morsi won two years ago.

In his final campaign TV interview last week, el-Sissi had set the bar even higher, saying he wanted more than 40 million voters — there are nearly 54 million registered voters — to cast ballots to “show the world” the extent of his popular backing.

After polls closed, his supporters held all-night celebrations in Cairo, with several thousands gathered at the central Tahrir square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. They waved Egyptian flags, el-Sissi posters and danced. There were similar celebrations in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and a string of other cities north of the capital and in the Oasis province of Fayoum southwest of Cairo.

Critics said the lack of enthusiasm at the polls was in part

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