Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Field Marshal who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, swept to victory in a presidential election, provisional results showed on Thursday, joining a long line of leaders drawn from the military.
But a lower than expected turnout figure raised questions about Sisi's credibility after his supporters had idolized him as a hero who can deliver political and economic stability.
Sisi captured 93.3% of votes cast as counting nearly came to a close, judicial sources said. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3.0% while 3.7% of votes were declared void.
Turnout was 44.4% of Egypt's 54 million voters, according to the judicial sources. That would be less than the 40 million votes, or 80% of the electorate, that Sisi had called for last week.
It would also suggest that he had failed to rally the overwhelming support he hoped for after toppling Mursi.
All results announced by campaigns or judges supervising polling centers are still considered unofficial, and must be verified and announced by Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission (PEC).
Sisi is the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers from the military that was only briefly broken during Islamist President Mohamed Mursi's year in office.
Sisi, who ousted Mursi last year after mass protests against his rule, is seen by supporters as a strong figure who can end the turmoil that has convulsed Egypt since the revolution that ended Mubarak's 30 years in power.
Sisi enjoys the backing of the powerful Armed Forces and the Interior Ministry, as well many politicians and former Mubarak officials now making a comeback.
But the former Military Intelligence Chief may not have the popular mandate to take the tough measures needed to restore healthy economic growth, ease poverty and unemployment, and end costly energy subsidies in the most populous Arab nation.
The two-day vote was originally due to conclude on Tuesday but was extended until Wednesday to allow the “greatest number possible” to vote, state media reported.
Leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi conceded defeat on Thursday. “I accept my defeat and respect the people’s choice… The official voter turnout figures were an “insult to Egyptians’ intelligence,” he said.
Sabahi vowed to continue the “fight against tyranny and corruption,” and pledged not to reconcile with “terrorism,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is blacklisted by the state as a terrorist group.
Source: Reuters; AP