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The New Arab

Egyptians vote in second day of presidential elections

Egyptians are voting on Tuesday on the second day of presidential elections. [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2018

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Any serious rivals to Sisi in the election race have been jailed or forced to quit.
Egyptians on Tuesday voted for a second day of presidential elections that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is virtually guaranteed to win.

Voters can choose between Sisi, the former army chief who ousted his democratically-elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and Moussa Mustafa Moussa, an obscure politician who registered at the last minute and says he doesn't oppose Sisi's policies.

With the outcome known, Sisi's focus will be on keeping voter turnout high enough to show citizens support his rule.

Tuesday is the second of the three-day voting, a time period apparently designed to boost participation.

Reporting on the election is restricted, with journalists banned from asking voters who they support.

State and private media, which all support Sisi, say turnout appeared high on the first day, although reporters on the ground at a dozen polling stations in Cairo observed only a trickle of voters entering the polling stations, at a rate of around two dozen an hour.

At one station in the suburban Sixth of October district on Tuesday, where some 8,000 voters are registered, judges, who in Egypt supervise the balloting, said the previous day's turnout had been around 14 percent.
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One judge said that voters, who trickled in in small numbers as he spoke, had often been coerced to vote.

"I have been hearing stories that hurt my ears," he said.

"Ministries, government agencies, large supermarket… You see groups coming together and you can ask them and see what brought them."

Compared to the 2012 elections, Egypt's first free democratic contest, "there was real competition compared to this one", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

As he spoke, loudspeakers played pro-army songs, while banners on nearby buildings displayed pro-Sisi slogans.

"It's better to stand in the queue of voters than in the queue of refugees," read one banner, a reference to the chaos in Syria following its own revolt against President Bashar Assad.

Sisi's supporters say he rescued Egypt from a similar fate.

Across the street, 19-year-old engineering student Salma Mohammed said that older adults often criticised young people who didn't want to vote for Sisi.

"Most of the youth see this as a farce," she said, adding that some of her friends had been unjustly accused of extremism under Sisi's rule. "There are no freedoms but he also brought security."

Since the 2013 military coup, Egyptian authorities have launched a bloody and far-reaching crackdown on dissent, detaining thousands of political opponents and suppressing civil society and the media.

Any serious rivals to Sisi in the election race have been jailed or forced to quit. 

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