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Egypt heads to the polls with President Sisi a certain winner Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Egypt heads to the polls with President Sisi a certain winner

Any serious virals to Sisi's in the election have been sidelined [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2018

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Polls in Egypt have opened in a presidential election between the incumbent leader and a little-known politician, with the results a foregone conclusion.

Polls for Egypt's presidential election opened Monday morning, with the race between the incumbent leader and a little-known politician, with the results a foregone conclusion.

Polling opened at 9am at 11,000 voting stations around the country for the three-day vote, in which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is all but guaranteed to win a second four-year term.

Security forces have been deployed nationwide to protect polling booths and armoured vehicles were stationed at several points around Cairo.

On Saturday, two policemen were killed in a car bomb attack targeting the provincial head of security for the Alexandria governorate.

The general-turned-president is challenged by Moussa Mustafa Moussa, who joined the race in the last minute to spare the government the embarrassment of a one-candidate election after several hopefuls were forced out of the race or arrested.

Sisi was among the first voters, shown on Egyptian television casting his ballot at a school in Cairo's Heliopolis district under tight security.

The president wants the election, which is effectively a referendum on his performance during his first term, to have a high turnout to affirm his legitimacy.

Sources in government agencies have told The New Arab that authorities have issued severe warnings to civil servants, ordering them to vote in the elections.

"Some managers have told civil servants that if they don't vote, security services will be notified that they are members of the Muslim Brotherhood," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Sisi had won his first term in 2014, a year after the former army chief ousted his predecessor Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass protests demanding the divisive Islamist's resignation.

Many young people who participated in the 2011 democratic uprising say they will boycott the "predetermined" elections.

"I am not voting because what has happened is outrageous. This is more of thuggery than governance," said Islam Mohammed, a 32-year-old Cairo resident.

Any serious virals to Sisi's in the election have been sidelined or withdrawn under pressure or were arrested.

In an interview broadcast on Egyptian television last week, 63-year-old Sisi said the lack of opponents was not his doing.

"I swear to God, I wish there were one, two, three, ten [candidates] standing against me of the best people and you could choose as you like from us. But we are still not ready yet," Sisi said.

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