A press conference held by the Presidential Election Commission announced former Defense Minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as the winner of the 2014 Egyptian presidential election and the new president of Egypt on Tuesday evening.
The commission reported 45.47 percent of Egyptians voted in the elections, held on May 26, 27, and 28 — a total of 25,878,223.
Sisi received an unprecedented total of 23,780,104 votes — 96.9 percent of the total valid votes.
Sisi’s opponent, leftist activist Hamdeen Sabbahi received a total of 740,304 votes at 3.05 percent of the total valid ballots, falling in third place after the nullified votes and spoiled ballots, which amounted to 1,036,410 (3.1 percent).
Sisi, who announced his decision to run for the presidency in March, 2014, is set to be sworn in as Egypt’s eighth president during the presidential inauguration ceremony on Sunday June 8, at the Qubba Palace, in the presence of a number of invited world leaders and the heads of several international institutions.
The prolog to announcing the results of the race in Tuesday’s press conference included the usual praise of the Egyptian people, and the “unprecedented electoral process, which was governed by the international standards of independence and integrity.”
Judge Anwar Rashad al-Assy, and member of the Presidential Electoral Commission, thanked the head and other members of the electoral committee for their relentless work, as well as the judges who supervised the process. “Particularly a judge in Qalyubiya,” he said, “who was injured during an attempt to steal his car as the ballots were being moved to the general committee, yet he insisted on delivering the ballots to their designated place before seeking medical attention.” Assy also thanked “military and police forces who sacrifice their lives for Egypt.”
“It’s about time Egypt calms down, heals its wounds, and takes steady steps towards a truly democratic future, starting with these fair elections that took place under the supervision of a number of Egyptian and International institutions and organizations, including the European and African Unions,” Assy said.
According to Assy, over 100,000 international observers were present during the elections, as well as 15,549 local observers from over 80 Egyptian organizations.
A statement released earlier by the European Union Election Observation Mission had said the electoral process was peaceful, calm and generally well conducted, yet they raised concerns over compliance with applicable international standards for democratic elections — lack of protection of the right to vote and the right to stand for all citizens, as well as the general climate of limited freedom of expression and media.
During the press conference a few controversial issues were raised and acknowledged. Assy put the reportedly low turnout at polling stations down to “a number of unprecedented procedures the commission had taken to avoid crowding in front of stations.” These procedures included supplying one ballot box to each sub-committee to ease the supervising judge’s work, in addition to increasing the number of voting stations by roughly 2000, he said.
The highly criticized extension of the voting period to include a third day was attributed to the heat wave that struck Egypt during the first two days. “We extended voting for a third day to give all citizens the chance to vote and allow those who live far from their voting constituency the time to travel and cast their votes. The decision was not random or sentimental, it was based on previous experience, which indicated that the peak times for voting are in the morning, late in the evening, and right before closing down voting stations,” Assy added. “Consequently, 10 percent of the total votes were cast on the third day.”
He also defended the decision to ban citizens from voting outside their assigned constituency, citing lack of means to concurrently update the voters’ database as the reason for the decision. “We would need a network that is not available to us at the moment. We would need 15,000 electronic devices spread across the country and we only have 2,000; 180 of which were sent abroad for expatriate voting. We would also need a year or more to train judges and clerks to operate the devices, and we only had four months since the formation of the Presidential Election Commission,” he elaborated.
Assy denied the presence of any major irregularities or violations during the electoral process. He said there were seven incidents of re-counting votes at various sub-committees in Giza’s Dokki and Warraq neighborhoods, as well as Fayoum, Belbis, and Damietta’s Ras al-Bar.
Votes were nullified in nine sub-committees across Egypt for different reasons, including allowing people from outside their constituencies to vote, a conflict between the number of valid and nullified ballots, and at the request of a candidate’s representative.