Authorities have been urging voters to cast ballots in the three-day polls. Sisi is reportedly seeking a second term to repair the economic damage from years of political turmoil, defeat ISIS insurgents and revive Egypt’s role as a pre-eminent Arab power.
Reuters report that voting has been made mandatory and those defying the call will face a fine of up to $28 – a punishment that wasn’t enforced rigorously in the previous elections.
The former army chief is contesting against a little-known rival, Moussa Mostafa Moussa – himself a supporter of Sisi. Other candidates withdrew, sidelined or arrested.
Sisi rose to power in 2014 after a coup that ousted the first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. The former Muslim Brotherhood member is in prison facing charges of carrying out a violent crackdown on protestors.
With victory lurking for Sisi, many Egyptians are facing security and economic challenges. The cost of living has soared, inflation rose leading to the reduction of salaries and rise of terror activities resulting in insecurity.
For areas where there’s been an upsurge of violence, voter turnout has been low. One area where voter apathy was conspicuous is the city of Tanta, where a bloody church bombing took place last year. There were few indications that the country was in the middle of an election. The attack – claimed by ISIS – killed 45 people at two Coptic churches.
This year’s presidential election is the third since former ruler Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in the Arab Spring protests that swept through the region in 2011.