CAIRO: Egyptians voted yesterday in an election expected to anoint Abdel Fatah Al Sisi as president, with supporters hoping another military strongman can end three years of turmoil despite fears for democracy in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 raised hopes of new freedoms, the vote means Egypt will likely revert to rule by men from the military after Sisi toppled the country’s first freely elected leader, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Former army chief Sisi faces only one challenger in the two-day vote: the leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi. Other candidates who contested the 2012 election won by Mursi did not run.
Early into the election, it was hard to find anyone who planned to vote for Sabahi in lines of voters where young Egyptians — the generation that drove the “Arab Spring” uprising — were conspicuous by their absence.
“We see Sisi as a real man. Egypt likes a strong man,” said 64-year-old Saber Habib, clenching his fist to make his point as he waited to vote in the city of Suez, east of Cairo. “We want the country to move forward and for the people to have bread,” said Habib, a contractor. Despite calls for a big turnout by Sisi and state and privately run media loyal to the army, the turnout appeared lower than in previous elections.