London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will be Egypt’s next president, after he secured a landslide victory against rival Hamdeen Sabahy.
Preliminary election results indicate that the popular former defense minister won over 96 percent of the vote, according to a report in Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. More than 23 million Egyptians cast their ballots for Sisi, with less than 800,000 voting for his Nasserite rival.
Sisi supporters have taken to the streets across the country to celebrate the former defense minister’s victory. Local media reported that thousands of people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, waving flags and setting off fireworks.
Voter turnout was not as high as expected, even after Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission extended the vote by one day, with preliminary figures putting turnout at around 44 percent. This figure is below the 52 percent turnout of the 2012 presidential election runoff that brought Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi to power.
The low voter turnout was compounded by the number of invalidated ballots, with reports that more than 1 million Egyptians had submitted an invalid vote—more than the number of people who voted for Sabahy.
Sabahy is set to hold a press conference later today where he is widely expected to officially concede the election. The Nasserite candidate was overwhelmingly defeated by Sisi in his own hometown of Kafr El-Sheikh in the Nile delta, winning less than 6 percent of the vote in that district.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat late on Wednesday, the head of Sabahy’s campaign, Hossam Moenis, revealed that many Sabahy supporters had called on the candidate to withdraw from the election race, but he decided to stay in the race in order to avoid a “chaos scenario.”
Sabahy “did not want to be a reason for dragging the country into chaos,” Moenis said.
The Sabahy campaign also criticized the election commission’s decision to extend the voting by one day, adding this did not have any effect on the election results. The Sabahy campaign withdrew its delegates from polling stations on the third and final day of elections in protest against the decision.
Speaking to Al-Ahram, Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the Presidential Elections Commission, estimated that 25 million Egyptians had taken part in the three-day election. The official election results were initially set to be announced on Thursday of next week, but Shebl said it could now take place as early as Sunday or Monday.
After central polling stations announce the results on Thursday, candidates can issue an appeal. “The Presidential Elections Commission will review the results and decide on the appeals on Friday and Saturday, in order to announce the results by Sunday or Monday,” Shebl said.