Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is Egypt's new president

Ahram Online, Thursday 29 May 2014

Although results will be confirmed next week, it is certain that ex-army chief has defeated rival Hamdeen Sabahi

Tahrir square
Supporters hold up posters of Egypt's former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as they celebrate at Tahrir square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is Egypt's new president after securing a landslide victory of over 96 percent of the valid votes, with over 23 million voters casting their ballots for him, according to an unofficial vote count as of early Thursday. 

El-Sisi's only contender, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, garnered a humble 3.5 percent, with less than 800,000 votes. The turnout is around 47 percent. 

A surprise in the 2014 presidential race was the number of invalidated votes – exceeding 1 million – which prompted  jokes on social media that Sabahi and the spoilt ballots were competing for second place in the election.

Although the results are announced by the judges supervising polling centres across the country, they are still considered unofficial as they must be verified and then announced by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), the judicial body overseeing the poll.

Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the PEC's general secretariat, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website early on Thursday that the official results will be announced either Sunday or Monday, 1 or 2 June.

El-Sisi's victory had long been predicted.

Polling centres began counting votes on Wednesday, the third and final electoral day, at 9pm CLT (6pm GMT). As the results began to come in, Egyptians took to the streets and stayed until the early hours of Thursday morning to celebrate, waving El-Sisi's campaign posters and bringing traffic to a standstill.

A spokesman for El-Sisi’s campaign was already speaking like a winner after midnight on Thursday, thanking the "Egyptian people for putting their trust in Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi".

Speaking to satellite Channel MBC Masr, spokesman Abdallah El-Moghazy said El-Sisi’s campaign didn't need the additional day of voting, citing the ex-army chief’s sweeping victory.

On Tuesday, the PEC added a third day of voting on Wednesday, which many said was driven by fears of low turnout. The decision brought formal complaints from both candidates – which in turn were rejected by the PEC.

However, El-Moghazy said that the media scared people by saying that voter participation was less than ideal, which he claimed was not true.

El-Moghazy said Egyptians went to polling centres for only one “motive”: the love of Egypt and their beliefs in El-Sisi – unlike the temptations offered in the era of Hosni Mubarak, when bread, oil and grains were offered to get people to vote, he said. 

The presidential election was the second since the 25 January 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi won in a runoff  with 52 percent, just over 13 million votes. The turnout was 51 percent. 

This was the first foreign-monitored election in Egypt's history. The European Union had 150 monitors across Egypt, which the EU said maintained their impartiality, neither legitimising the Egyptian electoral process nor validating the election results. The African Union and the Arab League are also observing the elections. 

On Thursday, the EU delegation will hold a press conference to reveal its primary findings.

Also present to monitor the election were the African Union, Arab League and Arab Parliament, as well as a number of NGOs.

The election took place in a generally peaceful atmosphere amidst months of a surge in terrorism since the Morsi's ouster last July.

An improvised explosive device exploded on Monday, the first day of voting, but led to no injuries. Some minor clashes also occurred on Monday between police and Morsi supporters in Cairo, Alexandria and Minya governorates, but were dispersed rapidly by security forces. 

On Tuesday, the second day, another improvised explosive device went off in Cairo's Heliopolis, leaving one citizen with minor injuries.

Late on Wednesday, Judge Mohamed Khairy was transported to a hospital after he was shot while on his way to a central polling centre in Qalioubiya's Benha to hand in votes, head of Sky News Arabia Samir Omar reported.

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