Egyptians began voting on Monday in a three-day presidential election set to deliver an easy victory for incumbent Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, firmly in power since 2013, when he led a coup against the largest Arab nation's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi. There are few doubts that President Sisi will win a second term after most challengers withdrew.
The only other candidate is the little-known centrist politician and al Ghad party chief Moussa Mostafa Moussa. Sisi overthrew Islamist president Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. He then won a landslide in the 2014 presidential election.
The voting started at 9.00 am (local time) at all polling stations across the country. The polling stations are expected to close at 9 pm (local time). About 60 million people are eligible to vote in the election spread over March 26, 27 and 28. There are 13,687 polling stations across Egypt. The result is expected to be announced on April 2. In front of some polling stations, voters raised photos of President Sisi and chanted slogans like 'Long Live Egypt'.
President Sisi, 63, cast his vote in the election early today at the opening of the polling stations in Heliopolis. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, other ministers, judges and officials were among the first people to cast their votes. Sherif urged Egyptians to cast their votes in the election. "Egypt has passed through difficult economic situation and was targeted by terrorist attacks in the past, but in the coming four years, it will witness a notable progress," Sherif told reporters after casting his vote.
President Sisi's rival Moussa Mostafa Moussa, a longtime supporter of the president, emerged as a last-minute challenger. Police and army forces were deployed across the country to secure the polling stations and armoured vehicles were stationed at several points around Cairo. The Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center prepared a central operation room to allow Prime Minister Ismail to follow up the electoral process in all Egyptian governorates through video-conference.
Another operation room was set up in Alexandria city hall and equipped with video conference equipment and TV screens to follow up the elections and receive any complaints from the citizens, according to Alexandria Governor Mohamed Sultan.
The interior ministry also launched a hotline to receive calls from old people who want to cast their votes. Senior voters and women made a significant turnout to polling stations during morning hours in Cairo's Sayyeda Zeinab, Old Cairo, other areas of the capital, as well as in Qalyubia governorate, local media reported.