December 20, 2014
Egypt election extended by one day
Egypt's presidential election was extended by a day today in an effort to boost lower than expected turnout that threatened to undermine the credibility of the frontrunner, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
After Sisi called for record voter participation, low turnout would be seen at home and abroad as an immediate setback for the field marshal who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi.
The two-day vote was originally due to conclude on today at 10 p.m. but was extended until Wednesday, state media quoted an official in the body overseeing the election as saying. The extension would allow the "greatest number possible" to vote, including Egyptians who need to return home to vote.
Sisi faces only one challenger in the election: the leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in a 2012 vote won by Mursi and was seen as a long-shot in the race against an army man who became popular after ending Mursi's divisive year in office.
It is the second time Egyptians are electing a president in two years, and it is the seventh vote or referendum since 2011.
The military-backed government had launched a determined effort to get out the vote.
The justice ministry said Egyptians who did not vote would be fined, and train fares were waived in an effort to boost the numbers. Local media loyal to the government chided the public for not turning out in large enough numbers.