Thousands of jubilant supporters of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi turned out at polling stations across Egypt on Monday to cast ballots in an election that their candidate is certain to win.
Click Here: Rugby league Jerseys
People waved Egyptian flags, chanted Mr Sisi’s name, and wore hats and t-shirts emblazoned with his face as they turned out to vote amid heavy security.
At one polling station in the Abdeen neighbourhood of central Cairo, speakers blared a speech by Mr Sisi in which he promised he would “use all brute force” against Egypt’s enemies.
“He is the man who God sent to save this country,” said Ahmed Boshkash, a 57-year-old former bodybuilder, who was one of the first to vote at the Mohammad Farid School in Cairo. “He’s a real man and not a liar. We will see millions of people support him.”
All of Mr Sisi’s credible opponents have been arrested or intimidated out of the race, leaving Egyptian voters with a stubby ballot paper with only two names: Mr Sisi and his token challenger Moussa Mostafa Moussa.
Here’s what the Egyptian ballot papers look like. Sisi is on top, his token opponent Moussa Mostafa Moussa is below. pic.twitter.com/jj2mO9rkZY
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) March 26, 2018
Over the course of several hours at different polling stations, The Telegraph found no one who was planning to vote for Mr Moussa, nor anyone who knew anyone planning to vote for him.
Despite the lack of any real drama in the election, many voters seemed excited to vote for Mr Sisi, giving him credit for ousting the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013 and launching a series of major infrastructure projects.
“Times are hard and prices are high but he’s working to help,” said Bahia Hussein after she cast her ballot for Mr Sisi. “He runs in our blood and we come out to support him – no one asked us to.”
Others went to the polls with less enthusiasm and turned out to vote either because they had been sent to the polls by their supervisors or out of fear of a 500 pound (£20) fine if they did not cast ballots.
“I’m not convinced by either of them but I don’t want the fine,” said Abdel, a 19-year-old student, who asked that his surname not be published. “If I can spoil my ballot I will do that.”
Mr Sisi’s allies are concerned that a low turnout would be embarrassing for the president and are pushing to get as many voters to the polls as possible by the time voting ends on Wednesday night. Official results will be announced on April 2.
Mr Sisi won 97 per cent of the vote in 2014 presidential elections with a turnout of 47.5 per cent, according to official figures. Analysts expect the Egyptian state will aim for similar figures in this election.