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Egypt: Vote in presidential election enters final day

Egypt presidential election   -  
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For the second consecutive day on Monday, 67 million Egyptians were called upon to choose their future president, a vote won by the outgoing Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, in power since he overthrew the Islamist Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

"I've come to vote for the president in the difficult circumstances our country is going through," said Nadia Chahine, 67, who AFPTV met outside a polling station in an affluent district of Cairo.

This election, the third - and last according to the Constitution - that Mr. Sissi, 69, is expected to win, comes at a time when war has been raging since October between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt, and when the most populous Arab country is caught up in the worst economic crisis in its history.

"We need a strong president," pleads Ms. Chahine, while supporters of Mr. Sissi, a former field marshal, keep repeating that only a military man can act in the face of the "threat" of a possible "transfer" of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip bombarded relentlessly for weeks by Israel after an unprecedented deadly Hamas attack on its soil.

"Our biggest problem at the moment is Gaza and the transfer of population", insisted Mrs. Chahine, while Cairo, like other Arab capitals, has warned against a forced displacement of Gaza's population to Egyptian territory, accusing Israel of considering such a project.

Hammoud Ahmed, for his part, wants a president who "controls the market and prices, punishes speculators and looks after the people who can no longer get by" in a country where inflation is running at almost 40%, the currency has lost 50% of its value and debt has tripled.

In addition to Mr. Sissi, three other candidates, generally unknown to the general public, are in the running: Farid Zahran, from a small left-wing party, Abdel-Sanad Yamama, from the Wafd, a century-old but now marginal party, and Hazem Omar, from the Republican People's Party.

Despite Egypt's difficulties, no serious opposition seems likely to exist under the reign of Mr. Sissi, the fifth president from the ranks of the army since 1952, who rules the country with an iron fist.

In the 2014 and 2018 presidential elections, Mr. Sissi won with over 96% of the vote.

Two opposition figures tried for a while to run, but were quickly sidelined. Today, one is in prison and the other awaiting trial.

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