Egyptians began voting Monday in an election that virtually guaranteed another term for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who faced only one token opponent in balloting that resembled the referendums held by autocrats for decades before the Arab Spring briefly raised hopes of democratic change.
El-Sisi’s only challenger was Moussa Mustafa Moussa, a little-known politician who joined the race at the last minute to spare the government the embarrassment of a one-candidate election after several hopefuls were forced out or arrested.
Authorities hope enough of Egypt’s nearly 60 million eligible voters will participate in the three-day election to give it legitimacy. Local media, which are dominated by pro-government commentators, have portrayed voting as an obligation and the only way to prevent foreigner forces from sowing instability in the country.
Most polling places had only modest lines Monday, and some were empty for most of the day.
Tens of thousands of police and soldiers were deployed for the vote.