Egyptian ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes counted so far, provisional results showed on Thursday morning.
According to Sisi’s campaign, the former military chief has won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for Sabahi.
All results announced by campaigns or judges supervising polling centers are still considered unofficial, and must be verified and announced by Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission (PEC).
Sisi’s campaign team said the turnout nationwide was around 44 percent, even after voting was extended for a third day Wednesday – well below the nearly 52 percent turnout in the June 2012 election won by ousted President Mohammad Mursi.
Sisi was widely expected to trounce his rival Sabahi in the three-day election that wrapped up on Wednesday night.
In his final campaign TV interview last week, Sisi hoped for a large turnout to “show the world” the extent of his popular backing.
Meanwhile, fireworks erupted in Cairo as results began to emerge. Sisi’s supporters waved Egyptian flags and sounded car horns on the crowded streets of the capital. Celebrations lasted through the early hours of the morning.
About 1,000 people gathered in Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and raised hopes of a democracy free of influence from the military. Sisi supporters honked car horns and waved flags.
Amid reports of Sisi’s landslide victory, Sabahi appeared to concede defeat even before the end of the count.
“We respect the people’s will in choosing Egypt’s president,” an official in Sabahi’s election campaign was quoted by Al Arabiya News Channel as saying.