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Lacklustre turnout as Egyptians abroad vote in 'predetermined' presidential elections

Voting in Egypt takes place March 26-28, with Sisi is virtually certain to win [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 March, 2018

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Turnout among Egyptian expatriates in the presidential election has been lower than polls four years ago, an Egyptian judicial source has told The New Arab.

Turnout among Egyptian expatriates in the presidential election is lower than the last poll four years ago, an Egyptian judicial source has told The New Arab.

Many Egyptians abroad have boycotted the vote, arguing that it is "predetermined" with the incumbent president sure to secure victory.

"The overall sign from embassies around the world is that the turnout has been around two-thirds the number of the last elections in 2014," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Monday.

"The total number of votes have not exceeded 200 thousand," the source said, blaming the weak numbers on the lack of serious competition in the poll.

General-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was first elected in a 2014 landslide win, coming less than a year after he led the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically-elected president.

Over 30,000 Egyptians abroad - mainly in the Gulf - headed to polling stations to cast their ballots four years ago.

"Participating in voting means legitimising the whole process," Abdu, an Egyptian living Sweden, told The New Arab.

"I surely wish to see the elections with the lowest turnout ever to prove to the world that this is not legitimate and no one trusts the current regime," he added.

Another Egyptian living in the UK said he failed to cast his ballot because the "election is rigged and a waste of time".

Pro-government media have hailed a "historic turnout" at polling stations abroad, which opened on Friday and ended Sunday.

Voting in Egypt takes place between 26 and 28 March, with Sisi is virtually certain to win re-election after a string of potential contenders withdrew from the race under pressure or were arrested.

An obscure sole candidate, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, is the only rival and a supporter of the Sisi government.

The election has been preceded by a purge of would-be opposing candidates that was unprecedented even in comparison to Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.

Authorities have also clamped down on the media, even egging the public to report to the police anyone they feel is depicting the country in a bad light.

After the election, Sisi and his supporters will likely try to get rid of the constitution's two term limit on the presidency, said Paul Salem, a senior Middle East expert from the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

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