Egyptians Protest After Former Army Chief Won Presidential Election

With former army chief, who was hardly known before former President Mohammed Morsi appointed him, becoming the president in the just conclude elections, protests have rocked cities across Egypt.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won the country’s presidential elections in what EU observers called “in line with the law”.

Demonstrators took to the streets in the capital Cairo, Bani Suef and Fayoum, on Friday, holding banners with photos of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi and chanting against the president-elect.

A day earlier, an EU team that monitored the presidential election said the vote was conducted “in line with the law”, although it regretted the lack of participation of some “stakeholders”.

Preliminary results from the three-day election that ended on Wednesday gave 96 percent of votes to Sisi.

Sisi’s opponents say Egypt has returned to autocratic rule since he deposed Morsi. More than 1,400 have been killed in street clashes and thousands imprisoned in a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

Despite Sisi’s victory, the vote was seen as a blow to the military establishment, because of its low voter turnout, a fact noted by EU observers.

Robert Goebbels, a senior member of the EU mission, said “high turnout is not necessarily proof of democratic elections”, noting that turnout in states like North Korea with only one candidate can reach 99 percent.

EU officials said the election was held in a “peaceful and calm manner” with “only minor procedural problems and a limited number of violations”.

The lack of participation “undermined universal participation in the election”, the EU said a statement.

The poll was criticised by the US monitor Democracy International. It said: “Egypt’s repressive political environment made a genuinely democratic presidential election impossible.”

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, blacklisted by the military-installed authorities as a “terrorist” organisation, had called for a boycott of the election.