A person carries a picture of Al Sissi on the first day of the presidential election in Cairo on December 10, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

CAIRO:  Abdul Fattah Al Sisi has swept to a third, six-year term as Egypt’s president, winning 89.6 per cent of votes, the National Election Authority announced on Monday.

The election took place as Egypt struggles with a slow-burning economic crisis and tries to manage the risk of spillover from the war in Gaza, which borders Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Al Sissi was running against three other candidates.

Authority head Hazem Badawy said turnout reached an “unprecedented” 66.8 per cent of Egypt’s 67 million voters.

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Over 39 million voted for former army chief Al Sissi.

“The voting percentage is the highest in the history of Egypt,” declared Hazem Badawy, who announced the official results in a televised news conference.

Hazem Omar, head of the Republican People’s Party, came second with 4.5 per cent of the vote, followed by Farid Zahran, head of the opposition Social Democratic Party with 4 per cent. Abdul Sanad Yamama, chairman of the Wafd Party, received less than 2 per cent of the vote.

An ambitious young presidential hopeful, Ahmed Altantawy, dropped out of the race after he failed to secure the required signatures from residents to secure his candidacy.

In the months prior to the election, Al Sissi vowed to address the country’s ailing economy.

Al Sissi’s victory for a six-year term comes as no surprise - and, according to the constitution, it’s his  final term in office.

Al Sissi was first elected president in 2014, and was re-elected in 2018, both times with 97 per cent of the vote.

Some voters said the eruption of conflict in Gaza had encouraged them to vote for Al Sissi, who has long presented himself as a bulwark of stability in a volatile region — an argument that has also proved effective with Gulf and Western allies providing financial support to his government.

Voting in Egypt was held over three days on December 10-12 which the election authority said had reached 66.8% — above the 41% recorded at the last presidential election in 2018.

Al Sissi was elected to the presidency in 2014, and re-elected in 2018, both times with 97% of the vote. The constitution was amended in 2019, extending the presidential term to six years from four, and allowing Al Sissi to stand for a third term.

Al Sissi’s backers say security is paramount, and that some groups have benefited under his rule.

That included women, said Nourhan Al Abbassy, assistant secretary-general of the youth branch of the pro-Al Sissi Homat Al Watan party.

“We would love to see more females in key positions, more female ministers in the cabinet as long as they’re qualified, and revisions of personal rights laws that have to do with issues like marriage, divorce and alimony,” she said.