Egypt goes to elections: President el-Sissi set to score on empty goal
After Russia, it's the turn for Egypt. The north African country went to elections on Monday, March 26, which the experts believed would only be a one-sided affair with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi set to win his second term.
For observers, this tendency in Egypt's politics was indicating to a return of authoritarianism, something which had prevailed over several decades till Mohammad Morsi became the country's first democratically elected president in 2012. Morsi's rule, however, did not last for more than just over a year as the military interfered to overthrow him after public protests.
It was el-Sissi, an army man-turned-politician- who had overthrown Morsi and he is being challenged by a little known Moussa Mustafa Moussa after several aspiring candidates were either forced out of the race or held. Moussa also looks to complete the formality more than throwing any substantial challenge to el-Sissi, who also has made no mention about the latter in public.
Nearly 60 million eligible voters would cast their ballots during the three-day affair to choose an elected leader of the country which was once seen as a balancer in Arab politics but has been hit by political instability and uncertainty now.
Egypt saw a ray of hope over its political future after the popular uprising of 2011 saw the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak - a dictator ruling Egypt for three decades - to pave way for a democratically elected regime. But the election of 2018 looks to have stolen all the hope and gives an impression that Egypt is heading back to the Stone Age.
El-Sissi cast his ballot early in the morning on Monday and shook hands with the election workers. During his campaign for this election, Sissi was careful. Instead of addressing several rallies organised by his loyalists or appearing in television ads, el-Sissi went for carefully scripted programmes.
He also reminded the voters about the war on Islamic militants and that he played a crucial role in overthrowing a divisive Islamic president in Morsi in 2013. El-Sissi's action in overthrowing Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group had earned him public accolades but that his support has faded in the last five years and that was understandable from the strict steps taken against the media and his critics.
The growing strength of an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula which became prominent after the toppling of Morsi which has turned out into a serious terror threat to Egypt as well as the government's strong austerity measures to bring the country's economic fortunes have not left the population entirely happy with the administration even if the austerity measures have made Egypt a country conducive for investment.