Egypt sets presidential vote for May 26-27, with former army chief expected to win

Egyptians will vote on May 26 and 27 in a presidential election that Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is expected to win easily, meaning the former army chief who deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi could be sworn in as head of state by early June.

It will be the second time in less than two years that Egyptians have voted in a presidential election. The only other announced candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third in the 2012 election. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which had been Egypt’s most well-organized political party, has been banned and driven underground.

Widely seen as Egypt’s de facto leader since the July ouster of Morsi, Sisi enjoys backing from supporters who see him as Egypt’s savior. But he is viewed by the Islamist opposition as the mastermind of the coup, which ignited the worst internal strife in Egypt’s modern history.

The military-backed government has carried out a fierce crackdown on dissent that has targeted Islamists as well as secular-minded democracy activists. But protests and militant actions continue, sometimes with deadly consequences. One student was killed Sunday in clashes with police at the Islamic al-Azhar University in Cairo, state-run Middle East News Agency reported, quoting university officials. And a soldier was killed Sunday in an attack by militants on the bus he was driving in the Sinai Peninsula town of al-Arish.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Saturday said that since last summer, 496 people, 439 of them soldiers and police officers, had been killed in what it described as terrorist attacks.

Police in Cairo shot at demonstrators with buckshot as the protesters hurled stones during clashes on Sunday, the day authorities announced dates for presidential elections. (Reuters)

With Sisi expected to win comfortably, the presidential vote is not likely to go to a second round. The result of the first round will be announced no later than June 5, the organizing committee said at a news conference to outline the timeline.

Sisi stepped down as defense minister and army chief to run, and he announced his candidacy Wednesday. He has been lionized by state-run and independent media loyal to the army-backed government.

A Sisi victory would mark a return to the days when Egypt’s presidency was held by men from the military — a pattern interrupted by Morsi’s year in office.

Parliamentary elections are expected after the presidential vote, though a date has yet to be set.

— Reuters

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