10-17% turnout in North Sinai, 20-24% in South Sinai

Divided into two governorates, the restive and sparsely populated Sinai Peninsula witnessed low turnouts in the north and mediocre turnouts in south over the last two days of the presidential election.

Figures from election officials suggest that around 20 percent to 24 percent of voters took to the polls in the South Sinai governorate, while figures were lower in the more troubled North Sinai governorate, where just over 10 percent of eligible voters are said to have cast their ballots — although some state owned media outlets reported that this figure was closer to 17 percent.

Covering Monday’s vote in the South Sinai govenorate, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported high turnouts for the first day of presidential elections. Al-Ahram said that businessmen used 300 buses to mobilize voters, while the Salafi Nour Party also used its buses to transport hundreds of voters from their villages to polling stations.

The turnout at polling stations in the towns of Sharm al-Sheikh, Al-Taur, and Nabq were reportedly the highest in the peninsula, where Red Sea tourism is a main source of revenue.

As for the North Sinai governorate, the towns of Arish and Beer al-Abd recorded mediocre-to-high turnouts on Monday and Tuesday.

According to photojournalist Ahmed Abu Deraa, despite the generally low turnout, the mood in North Sinai’s towns was festive on both Monday and Tuesday. “Pro-military songs are being played day and night,” he said.

“However, the mood was somber in North Sinai, as the majority of voters chose to boycott the elections in light of the deteriorating security situation, crackdowns and arrests.” Abu Deraa said that boycotts were organized by members of the Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance and other opposition forces.

Radical armed groups such as Ansar Beit al-Maqdes (officially classified as a terrorist organization by Egypt, the US and the UK) have been operating out of North Sinai for nearly three years.

The photojournalist added that several reporters were harassed by security forces around polling stations, while some photographers had their photos erased “for reasons that are not clear to me.” However, unlike other parts of the country, no journalists was reported to have been arrested in the Sinai Peninsula over the last two days.

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