Egypt Votes for President – Again

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Surprise Announcement To Extend Elections Comes Amid Signs of Low Voter Turnout

Egypt’s military-backed government extended voting in presidential elections to a third day after low voter turnout threatened to deprive the presumptive winner, former army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, of the broad mandate he seeks.

In a surprise ruling, the state-appointed Presidential Election Commission said the extension was a response to calls by “large” numbers of citizens who weren’t able to vote during scheduled hours due to a heat wave in Egypt.

The decision came after Mr. Sisi voiced his wish for a large participation from Egypt’s 54 million voters so he can proclaim the public’s unqualified endorsement of his rule after nearly three years of politically divisive upheaval. Although widely popular in Egypt, Mr. Sisi has been criticized at home and abroad for returning the Arab world’s most populous nation to military-led authoritarian rule.

The announcement came hours before polling stations closed on the second and scheduled final election day. The campaigns of both Mr. Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi, the only challenger, said they objected to the third voting day and would lodge complaints with election officials.

“It obviously looks bad if the government is so flagrantly going out of its way to boost Sisi’s numbers,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank. “Sisi is going to win anyway, so his campaign is likely thinking about the day after—perceptions of Sisi’s complicity in inflating results could hurt him as president.”

The campaign of Mr. Sabahi, a leftist who came in third in the last presidential elections in 2012, said on Tuesday that it has logged a 10% to 15% turnout, but didn’t provide details on how it calculated that figure.

Mohammed Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, garnered 13.2 million votes—with about half of eligible voters participating—when he was elected in 2012, before he was ousted by Mr. Sisi in July.

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