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Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout that has dented former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s hopes for an enthusiastic show of public support. Few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

Estimates reported by pro-el-Sissi media put turnout so far since Monday at 38 to 44 percent, well below the nearly 52 percent turnout in the 2012 election won by the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the president whom el-Sissi ousted last summer.

In his last campaign TV interview last week, el-Sissi set the bar even higher, saying he wanted more than 45 million voters to cast ballots, a turnout of more than 80 percent – to “show the world.”

El-Sissi is considered certain to win the race, perhaps by a landslide. But turnout is key because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster of Morsi and his subsequent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists reflected the will of the people.

Critics say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls is in part due to deep apathy among even el-Sissi supporters, knowing that his victory is a foregone conclusion. Others say it shows deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as a warrior against terrorism and the only person able to tackle Egypt’s woeful economy, high unemployment, inflation and instability.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media have been in a panic the past two days. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in multiple districts toured by Associated Press reporters Wednesday. At some, music played from tents and kids painted Egyptian flags or el-Sissi’s name on their faces, while occasionally a voter drifted into the station. TV images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed similar scenes.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” said Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company who said she voted earlier.. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

In Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab district, loudspeakers played patriotic songs at an empty polling center. Two el-Sissi backers scribbled words of support on posters of the candidate that had been defaced with insulting graffiti.

“Sissi doesn’t need a program,” said one of them, Mohammed Hussein. “We just want security.”

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Tarek Shebli, a judge on the election commission, told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Wednesday that 21 million of the 54 million registered voters had cast ballots – a 38 percent turnout.

Two pro-military private TV stations, CBC and Al-Hayat, and el-Sissi’s campaign put out figures they said they obtained from commission officials, showing 24 million voted, or 44 percent.

Those rates are lower than the 2012 turnout. But since the overwhelming majority of votes are expected to go to el-Sissi, it would likely mean he garnered more than the 13 million votes that went to Morsi in his narrow victory over a former Mubarak-era prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.

AP correspondent Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report.

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout that has dented former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s hopes for an enthusiastic show of public support. Few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

Estimates reported by pro-el-Sissi media put turnout so far since Monday at 38 to 44 percent, well below the nearly 52 percent turnout in the 2012 election won by the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the president whom el-Sissi ousted last summer.

In his last campaign TV interview last week, el-Sissi set the bar even higher, saying he wanted more than 45 million voters to cast ballots, a turnout of more than 80 percent – to “show the world.”

El-Sissi is considered certain to win the race, perhaps by a landslide. But turnout is key because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster of Morsi and his subsequent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists reflected the will of the people.

Critics say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls is rooted in either due to deep apathy among even el-Sissi supporters knowing that his victory is a foregone conclusion. Others blame it to the absence of strong political mobilization to his supporters or deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as a warrior against terrorism and the only person able to tackle Egypt’s woeful economy, high unemployment, inflation and instability.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media have been in a panic the past two days. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in multiple districts toured by Associated Press reporters Wednesday. At some, music played from tents and kids painted Egyptian flags or el-Sissi’s name on their faces, while occasionally a voter drifted into the station. TV images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed similar scenes.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” said Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company who said she voted earlier.. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

In Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab district, loudspeakers played patriotic songs at an empty polling center. Two el-Sissi backers scribbled words of support on posters of the candidate that had been defaced with insulting graffiti.

“Sissi doesn’t need a program,” said one of them, Mohammed Hussein. “We just want security.”

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Tarek Shebli, a judge on the election commission, told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Wednesday that 21 million of the 54 million registered voters had cast ballots – a 38 percent turnout.

Two pro-military private TV stations, CBC and Al-Hayat, and el-Sissi’s campaign put out figures they said they obtained from commission officials, showing 24 million voted, or 44 percent.

Those rates are lower than the 2012 turnout. But since the overwhelming majority of votes are expected to go to el-Sissi, it would likely mean he garnered more than the 13 million votes that went to Morsi in his narrow victory over a former Mubarak-era prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.

AP correspondent Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report.

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

A low turnout will likely rob the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

Turnout is key for el-Sissi, because he is looking to prove to critics at home and abroad that his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, reflected the will of the people.

Only a handful of voters or none at all were at polling centers in three districts toured by an Associated Press reporter Wednesday morning. TV Images beamed live from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed very few voters at polling centers. In some cases, none.

Opponents say the lack of enthusiasm at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi’s supporters in the Egyptian media – which have been cheerleaders for the retired field marshal since his toppling of Morsi – have been in a panic. Political talk show hosts and newscasters have been berating people to vote, warning that otherwise the Brotherhood will be encouraged to step up its challenge to the new government.

Prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb angrily said that by not voting, Egyptians might as well “go directly to the prison and return Mohammed Morsi to power. Tell him `Your excellency, President Mohammed Morsi, please come out and rule us.'”

The abrupt decision by the election commission Tuesday to add another day of voting also raised complaints that authorities were tipping the playing field in el-Sissi’s favor.

U.S.-based Democracy International, which has been observing the vote, said Wednesday that the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”

It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled Tuesday, meaning they would not be observing polls Wednesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors continued to observe.

The campaign of el-Sissi’s sole opponent in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. It also pulled its representatives from polling stations Wednesday in protest against what it called intimidation and sometimes arrests of its campaign workers.

Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry Al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound. “The state is looking for a vote,” its red-lettered front-page headline said.

The head of the election commission told the MBC-Misr TV station that early estimates put turnout at 35 percent of the nearly 54 million voters in the first two days of voting.

That would be a significant drop from the 2012 election that Morsi won, which had a turnout of just under 52 percent. Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, put turnout on Monday at only 10 to 15 percent.

The tepid polling is particularly embarrassing because the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi the past 10 months, depicting him as the country’s savior and the only person equipped to tackle the country’s pressing problems, from a woeful economy and high unemployment, to surging crime and inflation.

They also have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

TV commentators have been scrambling for explanations.

One is that many decided not to bother to vote since the outcome was a foregone conclusion – few believe that Sabahi could offer a real challenge to el-Sissi. A heat wave Monday and Tuesday and fear of terror attacks have also been cited.

Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists are also boycotting the vote, together with many of the youths who took part in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said, bemoaning the boycott.

Of Egypt’s nearly 54 million voters, about 32 million are aged 18-40.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”

Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up

KDWN

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from a debacle of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls on Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.

The low turnout is increasingly likely to deprive the all-but-certain winner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, of the overwhelming show of public support he sought in the vote.

El-Sissi has been looking for a huge turnout as evidence of legitimacy for his ouster last July of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

Opponents say the no-show at the polls reflects deep discontent with el-Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that says he has no solutions for Egypt’s woes and fears he will return Egypt to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak.

“The ballot boxes are looking for voters,” declared the front-page headline in Wednesday’s edition of the Cairo daily Al-Shorouk. Even the generally pro-el-Sissi daily Al-Masry al-Youm appeared to rub salt into the wound.

“The state is looking for a vote,” the headline said in red letters.

For the past 10 months, the government and media have been whipping up adulation for el-Sissi, depicting him as the country’s savior.

They have praised his crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters, a campaign that has killed hundreds and put thousands in prison.

In Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district, a polling center did not have a single voter more than an hour after polls opened Wednesday. Masked army troops looked relaxed standing behind sandbags.

A short distance away, Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company, said she had voted earlier with her mother.

“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” she said. “They are exhausted of three years of constant troubles.”

There has never been any doubt that the 59-year-old el-Sissi would win over his sole opponent, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.

But el-Sissi and his backers have sought a big victory to send a message to the West – as well as to his domestic opponents – that his ouster of Morsi was not a coup but a popular revolution. Millions took to the streets in protests against Morsi before el-Sissi removed him.

Sabahi’s campaign, citing its representatives at polling stations, estimated turnout on the first day at only 10 to 15 percent.