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September 20, 2017

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El-Sissi wins Egypt elections, but low turnout

CAIRO--With nearly all votes counted, Egypt's former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent in the country's presidential election with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign Thursday. The interim president said turnout reached 46 percent.

But the turnout figure raised questions of the vote's integrity after the state — following widespread reports of empty polling stations during the scheduled two days of voting — abruptly added a third day to beef up the numbers.

The victory by retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was never in doubt, but the career infantry officer had pushed for a strong turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last July of Egypt's first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

In a statement Thursday, Interim President Adly Mansour declared that legitimacy had been achieved. He put turnout at 46 percent and said it showed "a broad consensus" for the political roadmap transition set by the military after Morsi's ouster. He said the voting was free of any "serious misconduct."

That rate is lower than the 52 percent turnout in the 2012 presidential election that Morsi won — and lower than the bar el-Sissi himself set in his last campaign interview, when he said he wanted more than 40 million of the country's 54 million registered voters to cast ballots so he can "show the world" his support.

Islamists, once the country's most powerful political machine, had called a boycott of the vote, as had some more secular "revolutionary" youth groups.

Still, el-Sissi can genuinely claim he comes into office with an impressive vote tally — his campaign said he won 23.38 million votes. That's significantly more than the 13 million that Morsi won two years ago. His sole opponent, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, received 736,000 votes, less than the 1.03 million invalid ballots cast, according to the figures.

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