El-Sisi Wins Nearly 100 Percent of Vote in Egypt Presidential Election
Egyptian incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took 96.9 percent of the vote in a three-day election (March 26 to March 28) as state media reported on Friday. The government-owned newspaper Al-Ahram estimated the turnout reached 42.08 percent, meaning 25 million of 60 million Egyptians participated in the poll.
Mousa Mustafa Mousa, the only contender to el-Sisi on the ballot, gained 3.1 percent of the vote, Al-Ahram stated. Mousa registered at the last minute to avoid a one-horse race, despite admitting being the incumbent’s supporter.
Al Jazeera reported that the elections were criticised as a one-man show with no credible opposition, as at least six other candidates pulled out, were prosecuted, or jailed.
El-Sisi was an army chief who toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected leader Mohamed Mursi in 2013. A year later, el-Sisi won the election by taking 96.9 percent of the vote.
The official result was announced on April 2 by the National Election Authority (NEA).
The preliminary result came as no surprise
Before the election, many had predicted that el-Sisi would win the election. The 63-year-old managed to bring stability to the country once rocked by political chaos following the Arab Spring 2011.
Mousa said he was not surprised by the result, given el-Sisi’s popularity and strong control over the country. One of the voters admitted not going to the ballot as a result had been predicted before the election day.
Despite the fact the election was not that competitive, no fraud or vote rigging cases were reported in the poll. Nine international organizations, 18,000 judges, 110,000 and 680 foreign correspondent were allowed to observe the electoral process.
A somewhat surprising result was the report of a high turnout of women in the three-day election, even though the country’s election authority has yet to release the latest data. According to Egypt Today, the head of the African Union Election Observation Mission, Abdallah Diop, stated that the intensive participation of Egyptian women in the election is a strong message for African women on the positive role of women.
El-Sisi may have secured his second term in a landslide victory. The winning, however, does not mean that he has nothing to worry at home. One of the most urgent problems is an economic problem. Egypt’s tourism industry, once a primary source of the country’s revenue, fell sharply after the 2011 revolution. The country had to rely on a US$ 12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), forcing it to slash subsidies. The inflation rate soared afterward.
Even worse, Egypt will continue to deal with youth unemployment in the years to come, as detailed in the Brookings Institution report in 2016. Overall unemployment has dropped 11 percent, but nearly 80 percent of jobless people are young people.
El-Sisi has also been criticized for restricting freedom of expression. According to the 2017 Human Rights Watch report, Sisi’s administration has applied its zero-tolerance policy toward political opposition dissent.
Ahead of the election, the country’s general attorney Nabil Sadeq ordered his staff to monitor media outlets closely to counter information that could harm the national interest. Some accused the move of paving the way for the victory of the incumbent.
El-Sisi is under pressure after turning over two uninhabited islands (Sanafir and Tiran) in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia after the island spent the last 60 years under the control of Cairo.
Egyptians accused the president of “selling” them to the rich kingdom state in exchange for financial assistance and investment.
Will anything change when it comes to Egypt’s relationship with the US?
Egypt is one of the U.S main allies in the Middle East, thanks to its peace agreement with Israel. Last year, El-Sisi visited Washington to meet President Trump. During the meeting, Trump promised a stronger relationship between both countries in the coming years.
Egypt receives US$ 1.3 billion in military aid annually from the U.S, despite the decision by Trump to delay almost US$ 300 million in funding last August.
Will Egypt enter a new era under the same leader? Or will nothing change?