Egypt’s Early Vote Tally: Sisi, 92%, Token Opponent, 3%

Egypt’s Early Vote Tally: Sisi, 92%, Token Opponent, 3%


On Wednesday, the election authority repeated a threat to impose a $28 fine on voters who failed to cast their ballot. Voting was extended by an hour on Wednesday after a sandstorm lashed Cairo, keeping some people from polls, officials said.

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Mr. Sisi, rear, at his campaign headquarters in Cairo on Monday.

Credit
Egyptian Presidency

Coverage of those tactics in the international news media drew harsh criticism from the government and its supporters, who accused reporters of presenting a distorted picture of the election.

“So the foreign media chose darkness,” wrote Hany Assal, a columnist with the state-run Ahram newspaper. “It reported and searched for the negative and worked hard to emphasize it.”

The State Information Service warned foreign reporters of unspecified consequences for “unprofessional” coverage of the election.

Mr. Sisi’s Western allies have been largely silent through the campaign, offering little or no criticism even as journalists were being arrested and the military jailed a former army chief who tried to run against Mr. Sisi.

In a message posted to the United States Embassy’s Twitter feed on Monday, the first day of the vote, the United States chargé d’affaires in Cairo, Thomas H. Goldberger, said: “As Americans we are very impressed by the enthusiasm and patriotism of Egyptian voters.”

Timothy E. Kaldas, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said the statement sent the wrong message to Mr. Sisi.

“To put out an image like that, without any context of the repression that has marred and undermined the credibility of the vote, puts the U.S. government in a position of being complicit with the repression,” he said.

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Sisi posters outside a polling station in Cairo. Voters reported bribes, blandishments and threats to bolster turnout, seen as a crucial measure of Mr. Sisi’s legitimacy.

Credit
Mohamed El-Shahed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A spokesman for the embassy declined to comment.

A handful of American observers, invited to monitor the vote by Egyptian officials, praised the vote in enthusiastic social media postings that showed the observers dancing with voters or eating with Sisi supporters.

One of the observers, Samantha Nerove, is a military veteran who runs a nonprofit called America Matters. Two others, Andy Braner and Sasha Toperich, wrote an online article before the vote that concluded “We should give el-Sisi a chance.”

Mr. Sisi has jailed tens of thousands of opponents, mostly from the banned Muslim Brotherhood. But he needs a strong showing to anchor his legitimacy as he presses the fight against Islamic State militants in Sinai and presses tough economic changes that are badly squeezing poor Egyptians.

Under Egyptian law, Mr. Sisi can serve only one more term and must leave office in 2022. He has denied speculation that he will amend the Constitution to extend or abolish those term limits.

Mr. Sisi, then a general, came to power in 2013 after he led a military takeover that ousted the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after a mass uprising.

Mr. Morsi, who was sentenced to 20 years in connection with the killing of protesters in 2012 and is still on trial on espionage charges, remains imprisoned at the Tora maximum security prison, also known as Scorpion, south of Cairo.

His family says he is suffering from ill health and recently enlisted five British members of Parliament and lawyers to draw attention to his plight. The group requested permission from the Egyptian government to visit Mr. Morsi in prison to assess his conditions, it said Wednesday. They did not receive a reply.

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