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Egypt Elections: Voters Heading to Polls, Sisi Facing Little Contest

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Local Editor

Egyptians begin voting in a highly-contentious presidential election, with incumbent Abel Fattah el-Sisi almost certain to glide to victory after his military-backed administration either jailed or scared off all serious contenders.

Egyptian voters

Polling stations opened at 0700 GMT on Monday for a three-day vote under tight security measures across the country.

Some 60 million people are eligible to vote and official results are expected to be released on April 2.

Voters are choosing between Sisi and his sole challenger, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, a vocal supporter of the army-chief-turned-president.

In the months leading up to the vote, six presidential hopefuls either ended up behind bars or dropped out citing obstacles to registering and harassment by state security services.

Sisi's most serious potential rival, ex-general Sami Annan, was arrested by the Egyptian military just days after he announced his bid on charges of breaching army regulations.

After all the candidates were thrown out, little-known politician Moussa, who had been leading Sisi's election campaign, suddenly announced he would be running right before the registration deadline expired.

Many observers view Moussa as a "puppet" whose bid is merely meant to lend color to the "show," and prevent the presidential election from becoming a one-man race or a referendum on Sisi's rule.

Moussa, however, dismissed the allegations, trying hard to make the case that he is not the strongman's minion.

"I'm entering to win and get more than 50 percent of the votes, but I don't know what the results will be," said Moussa, the leader of Egypt's Ghad Party.

63-year-old Sisi has also said the lack of serious opponents was not his doing. "I wish we had one, or two, or three, or 10 of the best people and you choose however you want," he said in an interview last week.

The electoral commission also said it will ensure the vote is fair and transparent.

The vote comes amid widespread opposition calls for a boycott of what is being called a farcical election and an "absurdity bordering on madness."

Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after he led the military to oust Egypt's first competitively-elected president Mohamed Morsi in a coup.

Neither of the candidates has had many campaigning events. Both have, instead, called for a big turnout in the election.

The president has repeatedly stressed the importance of voters turning out in large numbers.

Egyptian officials have been making special efforts to encourage voter participation. Buses have been driving through the streets of Cairo and playing songs to urge people to turn out and vote.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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