Egypt Votes: Polls Open, Incumbent Favored to Win


A woman poses for a photo after voting during the first day of the presidential election outside a polling site in Cairo, Egypt on March 26.

Egyptians cast their ballots Monday on the first of three days of voting in what appears to be a certain victory for incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

It is widely believed that al-Sisi will win in a landslide, given that several high-profile would-be challengers - including a popular former army chief - were effectively sidelined in the run-up to the poll.

After three well-known candidates were forced to withdraw and two soldiers who meant to run were arrested, Sisi has only one rival, the little-known Moussa Mostafa, who has previously supported him.

The victor is scheduled to be announced by the National Elections Authority (NEA) on Monday, April 2, according to state-run al-Ahram news. Still, Sisi won 96.9 percent of the vote. The song, "Abu el-Rugula", literally translates into "father of manhood" is expected be the song voters would dance to outside polling stations with the country's flag.

One middle-aged voter traded banter with polling workers as he dipped his finger in the indelible ink container after slipping his vote into a plastic ballot box at a school in the Giza district of Dokki.

The bombing came just ahead of Egypt's presidential election that got underway on Monday.

The following year, in June 2014, Sisi was declared the victor of the country's presidential election, with more than 96% of the vote. However, his critics say he has presided over Egypt's worst crackdown on dissent and describe the vote as a charade.

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In terms of monitoring the election, 53 local NGOs, and nine worldwide organizations are observing the poll.

In a series of televised interviews, Egyptian officials urged members of the public to take part in the vote, describing the poll as a "patriotic obligation".

"The turnout is really promising and everything is going smooth", Judge Yossif Jamal, head of Hadayek al-Maadi polling station, told Xinhua.

The military said on Sunday it would monitor local and foreign media coverage of the vote from a specially created media centre that would operate around the clock.

Hours before the election kicked off, the police announced the killing of six terrorists during a raid in Beheira province north of the capital Cairo.

Terror activities in Egypt have killed hundreds of security men and civilians since the military toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his now outlawed Brotherhood group.

Ministers as well as celebrities such as Sherif Mounir, Medhat Saleh, Samira Ahmed, Mohamed Henedi and Mohamed Tharwat also cast their votes on the first day of the election.

"The result is known in advance, and this does not encourage Egyptians to go out and vote", he said.