CAIRO: Egyptians went to the polls on Sunday in a presidential election overshadowed by war in neighbouring Gaza and with little doubt the incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would secure a third term.
In a country gripped by the most severe financial crisis in its recent history -- inflation has hovered near 40 percent after the currency lost half its value and drove up the cost of imports -- the economy is at the centre of Egyptians´ concerns.
Even before the current crisis, about two-thirds of the country´s nearly 106 million people were living on or below the poverty line. Voting will take place until Tuesday, between 9:00 am and 09:00 pm (0700-1900 GMT) each day, with the official results announced on December 18. In front of one Cairo polling station, posters bore messages to “get out and participate” while a DJ played nationalist songs.
Some 67 million people are eligible to vote, five million of whom had cast their ballots by 4:30 pm (1430 GMT) on Sunday, according to a statement from the National Election Authority.
Turnout is expected to be a key indicator of public sentiment in an otherwise uncompetitive election. Last time, it fell six points to 41.5 percent.
Casting her ballot in the western Cairo district of Dokki, Asmaa Refaat, a voter in her forties, said she “doesn´t know the other candidates”. “I only know President Sisi,” she said, calling on the winner “to change our lives for the better and ease inflation”.
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Dozens of tractors parked in front of parliament and more were set to join