But a lower-than-expected turnout figure raised questions about
the credibility of a man idolized by his supporters as a hero who
can deliver political and economic stability.
Sisi won 93.3 percent of votes cast, judicial sources said, with
most ballots counted after three days of voting. His only rival,
leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3 percent while 3.7
percent of votes were declared void.
Turnout was about 46 percent of Egypt's 54 million voters, the
government said, less than the 40 million votes, or 80 percent of
the electorate, that Sisi had called for last week.
It was also less than the 52 percent turnout secured in the 2012
presidential election by Mohamed Mursi, the Islamist leader Sisi
ousted last year after mass protests against his rule.
A Reuters tour of polling stations suggested turnout was low. Many
Egyptians said voters had stayed at home due to political apathy,
opposition to another military man becoming president, discontent at
suppression of freedoms among liberal youth, and calls for a boycott
"These elections were just an act, a farce," said Mahmoud Ibrahim,
25, a resident of the sprawling Imbaba district who did not vote.
"Turnout was low, but the media will lie to the people, all for the
sake of the one man."
The stock market .EGX30, which fell 2.3 percent on Wednesday as some
players said the turnout was a disappointment, was down two percent
by midday on Thursday. On the black market, the Egyptian pound
Mohamed El Sewedy, chairman of the Federation of Egyptian
Industries, said, however: "The business community is very happy
about the results. We need real reform and opportunities ... a guy
with courage to take decisions.”
Most Egyptian newspapers, who have been showering Sisi with praise
for months, celebrated the result, with state-run Al-Akhbar calling
it "a day of hope for all Egyptians".
Sisi is seen by supporters as a strong figure who can end the
turmoil that has convulsed Egypt for three years since the
revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power.
Critics fear Sisi will be another autocrat who will preserve the
army's interests and quash hopes of democracy and reform.
Sisi enjoys the backing of the armed forces and the Interior
Ministry, as well as businessmen who thrived under Mubarak.
The former army chief also has the support of Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, which see Mursi's Muslim
Brotherhood as an existential threat. Gulf Arab states pumped
billions of dollars into Egypt to keep the economy afloat.
"Egypt and Saudi Arabia can work together to face threats, either
internally like the Muslim Brotherhood, or externally like Iran and
its supporters in the area," said Mohammed Zulfa, a member of Saudi
Arabia's Shura Council, an appointed body that advises the
"I think the Saudis will do all they can to support Sisi now he has
been elected as he was supported by the Egyptian people," he added.
Diplomats said Saudi Arabia was committed to help Sisi overcome
Egypt's crisis by maintaining financial aid to help him shore up an
economy shunned by tourists and investors.
Saudi Arabia has also formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as
a terrorist organization, in a move that increased pressure on
Qatar, whose backing for the group has sparked a row with Gulf
Riyadh fears the Brotherhood, whose Sunni Islamist doctrines
challenge the Saudi principle of dynastic rule, has tried to build
support inside the kingdom since the Arab revolutions.
Sisi gained adulation from many Egyptians after deposing Mursi,
whose one year in office was marred by allegations that he usurped
power and mismanaged the economy.
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But the lower-than-expected turnout suggest Sisi may not have the
popular mandate to take the tough measures needed to restore healthy
economic growth, ease poverty and unemployment, and end costly
"The hard work starts here. The last 12 months
have been about not being Mursi. Now the new regime has to deliver,"
said Simon Williams, chief economist at HSBC Middle East.
One of Sisi's biggest tests will be the politically-sensitive issue
of energy subsidies which drain billions of dollars from the state
budget every year. Businessmen have urged Sisi to raise energy
prices even though that may trigger protests, or risk sinking the
Tamer Abu Bakr, chairman of Mashreq Petroleum, predicted Sisi would
put off any bold decisions in the first few months of his
presidency, but a move was inevitable.
"(After) 30 or 40 years of subsidies, when you start to change
things, prices go up ... everything is going to get harder, we are
stupid if we don’t think so," he said.
Since a series of television interviews he gave ahead of the vote,
many Egyptians feel Sisi has not spelled out a clear vision of how
he would tackle Egypt's challenges, instead making a general call
for people to work hard and be patient.
He has presented vague plans to remedy the economy, suffering from
corruption, high unemployment, and a widening budget deficit
aggravated by fuel subsidies that could cost nearly $19 billion in
the next fiscal year.
Some Egyptians, exhausted after years of upheaval, have concluded
that Sisi is a strong figure who can bring calm, even though past
leaders from the military mismanaged the country.
Sisi also faces the formidable challenge of crushing an Islamist
armed insurgency and eliminating any threat from the Brotherhood,
which, as the country's best-organized political force, had won
every national vote held after Mubarak's fall.
The Brotherhood, a movement loyal to Mursi and outlawed as a
terrorist group, has rejected the election, describing it as an
extension of the army takeover.
The Brotherhood, believed to have about one million members, has
been devastated by one of the toughest crackdowns in its history.
Its top leaders, including Mursi, are on trial and could face the
death penalty. The movement seemed inspired by the low turnout in
this week's poll.
"Sisi and those with him have to admit that Egypt is against them
and the Dr. Mohamed Mursi is their president and the president of
all Egyptians,” an Islamist alliance that includes the Brotherhood
said in a statement.
The United States, Egypt's ally in the West, has yet to comment on
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Asma Alsharif, Yasmine
Saleh. writing by Michael Georgy and Samia Nakhoul; Editing by Giles
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