CAIRO: Ex-army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi was declared Egypt’s president-elect yesterday, winning 96.9 percent of the vote in an election nearly a year after he toppled president Mohamed Mursi, whose Islamist allies boycotted the polls.
Voting last week was extended to three days amid fears of low turnout, which was 47.45 percent, election commission head Anwar Rashad Al Asi said at a press conference announcing the results.
Sisi’s lopsided victory had been certain, with many lauding the retired field marshal as a hero for ending Mursi’s divisive rule in July.
Sisi’s only rival, Hamdeen Sabbahi, won just three percent of the vote.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, who opposed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, immediately called for a donors conference to help Egypt after the results were announced.
King Abdullah also urged Sisi to open up to the opposition, encouraging him to “accept the other opinion through a national dialogue with all parties whose hands have not been stained by the blood of the innocents.”
The United Arab Emirates also swiftly congratulated Sisi on his victory.
With an economy hammered by years of unrest, Sisi urged Egyptians to “work to return security to this nation,” in a television address after the final results were declared.
“The future is a blank page, and it is in our hands to fill with what we want ... bread, freedom, human dignity, social justice,” he said.
Sisi’s appeal mirrored the slogan of the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak, as his critics warned the retired field marshal could impose an even more repressive government.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where protesters had battled police three years ago in an uprising to overthrow dictator Mubarak, several thousand Sisi supporters celebrated and set off fireworks.
“We are celebrating the hope of restoring stability and security,” said Naela Mahmoud, a school principal.
But her daughter, Hala Abu Fadl, 29, recalled the past violence in the iconic square, once synonomous with rebellion against Mubarak and the army, which took over between his overthrow and Mursi’s election in June 2012.
“Celebrating here is difficult,” she said, pointing to a mural depicting a slain protester, at the entrance of a street where activists clashed with police and soldiers in 2011.
“I voted for Sisi for stability, but I fear a crackdown on freedoms,” she said.
Sisi will take office by the end of the month, with interim president Adly Mansour likely returning to his previous post as chief judge of the constitutional court.
Sisi’s main challenge will be to restore stability and attract tourists and investors again.