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Egypt’s presidential elections, widely regarded as a foregone conclusion, went off script this week, as a low turnout threatened to undermine the legitimacy of the eventual winner, military strongman ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi.
The former defense minister, who deposed the country’s first democratically elected leader in a coup last year, was a shoe in for the presidency when voting began on 26 May. But it soon became clear that Egyptians were shunning the polling stations, a blow to Mr Sisi’s carefully crafted image of a national savior riding on a wave of popular support.
Authorities responded by extending the election by a further day as part of a range of efforts to draw voters to the polls. They also threatened to fine people who did not cast their vote, and waived public transport fares. After polling stations had remained quiet on the first day of voting, 27 May was declared as an impromptu national holiday.
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