Although the country is facing a severe economic crisis, current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is likely to seek a third term in office.
Egyptians are voting in a presidential election overshadowed by war and economic crises in neighboring Gaza, with incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi likely to win a third term.
Voting began at 9 a.m. (07:00 GMT) on Sunday, with dozens of voters queuing in front of polling stations in central Cairo amid tight security.
Voting will take place every day from 9am to 9pm (07:00-19:00 GMT) until Tuesday and the official results will be announced on December 18.
Nearly 67 million people are eligible to vote, and all eyes are on the vote after previous elections garnered low participation figures.
Analysts say the economy is top of voters’ minds in Sunday’s poll as the country grapples with the worst financial crisis in its recent history – with inflation nearing 40 percent after its currency, the Egyptian pound, lost half its value since March. .
Before the current crisis, two-thirds of the country’s nearly 106 million people lived at or below the poverty line.
Despite Egypt’s suffering, a decade-long crackdown on dissent has eliminated any serious opposition to El-Sisi, the fifth president to emerge from the military since 1952.
Under his rule, Egypt has jailed thousands of political prisoners, with a presidential amnesty freeing about 1,000 in a year, rights groups say, three to four times as many arrested in the same period.
Meanwhile, Egyptians paid little attention to the election campaigns that took place in the shadow of the Israeli war on Gaza.
Competitors are not well known
The other three candidates are relatively unknown among the public: Farid Zahran, leader of the left-wing Egyptian Social Democratic Party; Abdel-Sanat Yamama, from the century-old but relatively marginal Waft party; and Hashem Omar of the Republican People’s Party.
El-Sisi, a retired field marshal in the Egyptian army, came to power in 2013 after overthrowing the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed after the 2013 coup.
In the 2014 and 2018 elections, according to official results, he scored landslide victories with over 96 percent of the vote.
El-Sisi later extended the presidency from four to six years and amended the constitution, raising the limit on consecutive terms of office from two to three.
The current president is not without supporters, many of whom credit him with engineering the return to peace in the country following the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
Since 2016, El-CC has implemented a number of economic reforms, including demonetisation and reducing the number of civil servants.
Those reforms, combined with high spending plans, including billions of dollars in new capital, have led to inflation, fueled public discontent and undermined El-Sisi’s support at home and abroad.
Under El-Sisi’s economic stewardship, the national debt has tripled, while various major projects – mostly led by the military – have failed to deliver the promised benefits.
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