Egyptians head to polls again to elect new parliament
Egyptians began voting Sunday across 13 of the country’s 27 provinces in the second phase of parliamentary elections after a low turnout marred the first stage in the absence of any strong opposition.
The election is expected to elect lawmakers who firmly back President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has crushed all forms of dissent since ousting his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Polling for the two-day second phase opened at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) across 13 provinces, including in Cairo, with few voters seen trickling in to cast their ballots.
Only a dozen voters waited at three polling stations in the capital’s central district of Shubra.
The first round of the election was held across 14 of the country’s 27 provinces on October 18 and 19, and produced a turnout of 26.6 percent.
A run-off held days later produced an even lower turnout of 21.7 percent.
If necessary, the second phase will also have a run-off on December 1-2. A run-off is held after the initial voting fails to produce a winner with a clear majority.
Analysts expect voting to be low in the latest phase too, given the overall disinterest among voters who expect the new 596-member parliament to simply rubber-stamp Sisi’s decisions.
Sisi remains popular to many Egyptians tired of years of political turmoil triggered after the 2011 ouster of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s last general election was held in 2011 at a time of widespread enthusiasm, months after the ouster of Mubarak, and the first round saw turnout of 62 percent.
The resulting Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved in June 2012, days before Morsi became the country’s first freely elected president.
Morsi was deposed a year later by then army chief Sisi after mass street protests against the Islamist’s divisive one year rule.
Sisi was elected to succeed him in 2014 after brutally crushing all forms of opposition — supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as secularists and leftists.
The Brotherhood, for decades the country’s main opposition group, has been blacklisted as a “terrorist” group and banned from competing, while several secular parties are either boycotting the latest polls or are badly represented.
The ouster of Morsi saw a blistering government crackdown targeting his supporters that left more than 1,400 people dead, mostly in the streets of Cairo, and thousands imprisoned.
Hundreds more, including Morsi, have been sentenced to death after often speedy trials.