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Sisi snatches landslide win in Egypt

Updated: 2014-05-30 06:54
By Agencies in Cairo ( China Daily)

Sisi snatches landslide win in Egypt

A supporter of winning presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's former military chief, holds his poster and a national flag during a celebration at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday. Amr Nabil / Associated Press

96% of voters throw support behind former general who deposed Morsi

Ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has scored a crushing presidential election triumph and consolidated the grip of the military, 11 months after the overthrow of the only Egyptian president not drawn from its ranks.

Ninety-six percent of voters, at least 21 million Egyptians, chose retired field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, with ballots counted from all but a handful of 352 stations, state television reported on Thursday.

Sisi's only electoral rival, leftist leader and longtime opposition figure Hamdeen Sabbahi, won less than 4 percent.

The former general, who retired from the army to run for office, becomes Egypt's fifth president hailing from the military, reasserting the institution's grip on politics in the Arab world's most populous nation.

The military has always formed the backbone of political life in Egypt, and the institution has provided the country's leaders ever since army officers toppled the monarchy in 1952.

The only exception was Morsi, elected in 2012 a year after an uprising overthrew longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak, himself a former air force commander.

"Few would have imagined that ... three years after Mubarak's toppling, a field marshal, a new pharaoh, would be elected again with 96 percent, without even unveiling a program and without campaigning," said Middle East analyst Karim Bitar.

Sisi rode on a wave of support for a potential new strongman who can restore stability and revive the economy after three years of turmoil.

But his opponents say that since he ousted Morsi in July, Egypt has undergone a return to autocratic rule.

A state crackdown targeting Morsi supporters has left at least 1,400 people dead in street clashes and seen more than 15,000 others jailed.

Private and state-run media called for Egyptians to go out and vote, and the Monday-Tuesday election was extended for a third day in a last-minute decision that sparked protests.

Sisi had called for at least 40 million of Egypt's almost 54 million eligible voters to go to the polling stations.

But an election commission official put actual turnout at about 25 million, or 46 percent, although it could edge higher, the official Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website, down from 52 percent when Morsi was elected in 2012.

Egyptian authorities are touting the election as a milestone on the road to democracy following Morsi's ouster, but Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood is hailing what they see as a successful boycott.

"The great Egyptian people have given a new slap to the military coup's road map and ... written the death certificate of the military coup," said its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

All of the movement's main leaders are now in jail or exile, and Morsi himself is being tried on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Prominent activists behind the uprising that ousted Mubarak three years ago had also called for a boycott, charging that Sisi is an even worse leader in the making.

Ahead of the final official results, hundreds of Sisi supporters took to the streets on Wednesday night to celebrate their candidate's victory, waving Egyptian flags, setting off fireworks and honking car horns.

"It's a victory for stability," said Tahra Khaled, among the crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square, nerve center of the mass protests that brought an end to the Mubarak era.

AFP-Reuters

 

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