Egypt to hold presidential vote in December as economic crisis worsens

The National Elections Authority says the vote will be held December 10-12; incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is a clear favourite.

A billboard banner supporting Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, Egypt
A view of a billboard supporting Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, Egypt on September 25, 2023 [Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

Egypt is set to hold a presidential vote in December, the elections body announced, and incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is widely expected to win despite the dire economic situation facing the country.

The National Elections Authority said on Monday that the vote will be held December 10-12.

A handful of politicians have already announced their bids to run for the country’s highest post, but none poses a serious challenge to el-Sisi, who has been in power since 2014 – a year after overthrowing the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood has since been declared a “terrorist” organisation.

Opposition politician Ahmed al-Tantawi, an ex-lawmaker, has said he will run, and accused security agencies of arresting some of his supporters.

Other candidates who announced their bids include Farid Zahran, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party; Abdel-Sanad Yamama, head of the Wafd Party; and Gameela Ismail, head of the liberal Constitution Party (Dostour Party).

El-Sisi’s presidency has been marked by a crackdown on dissent across the political spectrum.

Activists say tens of thousands have been jailed since 2013, often without fair trials, and that the crackdown has continued despite the pardoning of some high-profile prisoners and the launch of a national political dialogue.

Moreover, the economic situation in the country remains dire, as Egypt’s currency has lost half its value since March 2022, and as inflation reached an all-time high of 39.7 percent in August.

A vendor waits for customers besides a banner with an image of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
A vendor waits for customers beside a banner with an image of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at a market in Cairo [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

The former army chief was declared winner of both the 2014 and 2018 elections with 97 percent of the vote. In 2018 he faced just one opponent, himself an ardent el-Sisi supporter, after the main challenger was arrested and other hopefuls pulled out, citing intimidation.

Due to constitutional amendments in 2019, el-Sisi can stand for a third term. The amendments also extended the length of presidential terms to six years from four, allowing him to stay in office until at least 2030.

Election results are expected to be announced on December 23. In the event of a run-off round, final results should be announced on January 16 at the latest, the National Elections Authority said.

Source: News Agencies