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Egyptians go to polls to elect new leader - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Presidential candidate and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi watches an election official before casting his ballot while voting at a polling station in Cairo May 26, 2014. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Presidential candidate and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi watches an election official before casting his ballot while voting at a polling station in Cairo May 26, 2014. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian voters will head to polling stations on Monday to elect a new president amid tight security measures, in a race between former army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahy.

More than 180,000 army personnel have been deployed, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, to guard around 13,900 polling stations across the country and deal with any potential violence or riots that could disrupt the electoral process or prevent citizens from casting their ballots.

The presidential election, which will be held over May 26 and 27, is the second milestone in a roadmap laid down by the army in agreement with political forces in July last year following the ouster of then-president Mohamed Mursi who hailed from the country’s oldest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Sunday ordered all police forces to deal “decisively and firmly” with any attempt to endanger the safety of citizens or disturb “the country’s democratic celebration.”

The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission and interim President Adly Mansour have urged Egyptians to come out and cast their votes in a bid to ensure a high turnout.

Egypt has around 54 million eligible voters. The voting, which will start at 9:00 am Monday and close at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, will be monitored by 79 local human rights institutions as well as five international organizations, including the African Union and the European Union.

The vote count is expected to start as soon as voting ends on Tuesday night in sub-polling stations around the country. The results will be officially announced by June 5, 2014 at the latest.

The results of the Egyptian expatriates’ vote, which was held abroad from May 15 to May 19, showed a big lead for former field marshal Sisi, and is widely seen as an accurate prediction of the final, overall result.

Among expatriates, Sisi won around 297,000 compared to 17,000 for Sabahy. Observers also said that the high turnout among expatriates suggested there would be a similarly high turnout in Egypt as well.

The presidential poll comes at a time when Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, is struggling with an ailing economy and security problems.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab described the vote as “an important step” which he said would be “a watershed in restoring security and stability and kick-starting desired economic growth.”

Inspecting the rapid response forces that will participate in protecting polling stations in various governorates, Egyptian Minister of Defense General Sidqi Subhi said: “The armed forces will show no leniency in protecting the homeland and taking it to the shore of safety.”

The army has urged Egyptian voters to cooperate with security force personnel guarding polling stations and avoid taking any bags or belongings inside while casting their ballots. In addition, no vehicles or motorcycles will be permitted in the vicinity of the polling stations.

The strict security measures come against the backdrop of a spate of terrorist attacks that has struck the country since the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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