Mod­er­ate turnout, many cel­e­bra­tions across gov­er­norates dur­ing 1st day of vot­ing

The Daily News Egypt - - Election - By Sarah El-Sheikh and Fatma Lotfi

Egyp­tians across the coun­try on Mon­day be­gan cast­ing their bal­lots to de­cide who will be their next pres­i­dent, choos­ing be­tween in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tahAl-Sisi,who is ex­pected to se­cure a sec­ond four-year term, or his ob­scure ri­val, politi­cian Moussa Mostafa Moussa.

Daily News Egypt con­tacted jour­nal­ists in dif­fer­ent gov­er­norates across the na­tion to gain a sense of the turnout.All of them agreed that the day wit­nessed mod­er­ate turnout and that the vot­ers were mainly fe­males. They fur­ther re­ported var­i­ous ral­lies cel­e­brat­ing the elec­tion.

Samir Wa­heed, a pho­to­jour­nal­ist work­ing for a pri­vately-owned news­pa­per, told Daily News Egypt that the turnout in the gov­er­norate of Daqahleya was very high dur­ing the first few hours of vot­ing, but then calmed down af­ter­wards. He also de­scribed the turnout dur­ing the first day as be­low av­er­age, say­ing that in the places where high turnouts were ex­pected,peo­ple were scarce.

“For ex­am­ple, on Adab Street, one of busiest ar­eas in the gov­er­norate, where there are eight polling sta­tions,high turnout was only seen at six sta­tions.The ma­jor­ity of vot­ers were of­fi­cials and pub­lic fig­ures of the city,” Wa­heed said, but he ex­pected the turnout to in­crease.

Wa­heed also noted that many cel­e­bra­tions and ral­lies were or­gan­ised by po­lit­i­cal par­ties and cit­i­zens in front of the polling sta­tions, with many wear­ing t-shirts bear­ing the phrase “Long Live Egypt” or pho­tos of can­di­dates.

Re­gard­ing the can­di­dates’ pop­u­lar­ity in Daqahleya, he said all its cit­i­zens are vot­ing for Al-Sisi.

A jour­nal­ist in the gov­er­norate of Kafr El-Sheikh said that turnout is high in vil­lages and low in the city it­self, though he ex­pected it to in­crease.

“El­ders, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, and cler­ics or­gan­ised large ral­lies to call peo­ple to vote. For the first time, we see ‘kid­die trains’ trans­port­ing peo­ple to their polling sta­tions.Also, we saw fe­male school stu­dents go­ing to ral­lies to sup­port the vot­ing process,” he said.

Shar­qeya gov­er­norate wit­nessed high turnout across the gov­er­norate’s cities and vil­lages amid in­tense se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia.

Ab­del Rah­man Fahmy, 24, re­sid­ing in Shar­qeya, said the turnout is lower than av­er­age,de­spite cel­e­bra­tions be­ing more wide­spread than usual.

In Alexan­dria, more than 3.8 mil­lion peo­ple are el­i­gi­ble to vote. How­ever, turnout at dif­fer­ent polling sta­tions was rel­a­tively mod­er­ate, al­though more ex­ten­sive to the gov­er­norate’s west. The vot­ers were mostly from Al-Nour Party and mem­bers of a pro-Al-Sisi cam­paign, with­out the pres­ence of any Moussa sup­port­ers, ac­cord­ing to Ahmed Ashour, a jour­nal­ist at a pri­vately-owned news­pa­per.

Pho­tos taken by Ashour showed queues of women in full veil, ap­parel pop­u­lar with Salafists, along with men with beards.Ashour, who vis­ited sev­eral vot­ing sta­tions in theAm­reya neigh­bour­hood,as well as one in Kar­mouz,said that the par­tic­i­pa­tion was ex­ten­sive,es­pe­cially women’s and young peo­ple’s.

Fol­low­ing the 25 Jan­uary revo­lu­tion of 2011, var­i­ous re­li­gious move­ments, in­clud­ing the Salafists, deep­ened their pres­ence in Alexan­dria.At that time,AlNour Party was founded based on the Salafist ide­ol­ogy. It of­fi­cially an­nounced, in Jan­uary, its sup­port for Al-Sisi.

Mean­while, in the Roshdy neigh­bour­hood, where an ex­plo­sion on Satur­day killed two po­lice con­scripts and wounded four oth­ers af­ter a bomb had tar­geted the con­voy ofAlexan­dria Se­cu­rity Di­rec­tor Moustafa Al-Nimr, polling places were quiet in the morn­ing, then turnout be­came mod­er­ate,ac­cord­ing to jour­nal­ist Shy­maa Hamoda.

She took a round atTaha Hus­sein and Roshdy In­dus­trial Sec­ondary Schools, telling Daily News Egypt that there was a re­mark­able turnout of el­derly peo­ple who be­lieve that their votes are im­por­tant, con­sid­er­ing it a “na­tional day.”

Ac­cord­ing to the cor­re­spon­dents, high turnout was seen mainly among el­derly peo­ple, pub­lic fig­ures, and fe­males. They viewed the day’s over­all turnout as mod­er­ate and ex­pected the turnout to in­crease dur­ing the next two days, high­light­ing that peo­ple’s cel­e­bra­tions were the most sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of the day.

Queues of women in full veil, ap­parel pop­u­lar with Salafists

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