CAIRO: Legal advisor of Sabahi’s campaign Hussein Abdel Ghany said that High Presidential Electoral Commission (HPEC) was pressured to extend one extra voting day in the ongoing presidential elections.
“It is an abrupt decision that was made as a result of pressure from several parties and it is an attempt to impose a certain scenario on Egyptians,” Sabahi’s campaign said in a Tuesday statement.
HPEC announced Tuesday evening and a few hours before the second end of the presidential election that voting will be extended for an extra day at polling stations nationwide Wednesday.
The decision followed the lower-than-expected voter turnouts during a two-day election process that was due to end on Tuesday at 09:00 p.m.
The extra day of voting was a response to a public demand presented by media outlets to “allow citizens who could not cast their ballots because of residence restrictions” to participate in the elections, Head of HPEC Jude Abdel Aziz Salman said on CBC channel.
Legal advisors of both electoral campaigns filed legal complaints against HPEC’s decision.
“The notable low turnout threatens the popularity and credibility of presidential candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is trying to gain an overwhelming show of support,” National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) member Magdy Qorqor told The Cairo Post.
There is no doubt that Sisi would win, Qorqor said but Sisi seeks a big victory with a high turnout to send a message to the West that his ouster of Egypt’s first freely and legitimate elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was not a coup but a popular revolution.
“He also wanted the voter turnout of the 2014 presidential elections to exceed that of 2012’s, which had a turnout of almost 52 percent,” Qorqor said.
Salman said on MBC-Misr TV that the early estimates that turnout witnessed 37 percent of the nearly 54 million voters turnout in the first two days of voting.
Sabbahi’s campaign said that claims of voter low turnout have been
used as a ‘pretext’ for extending the vote and then ‘manipulating’ the figures.
In a response to HPEC’s decision, Sabbahi’s campaign decided to withdraw its representatives from polling stations nationwide in response to the ‘unjustified’ decision.
Sabbahi’s campaign denounced the decision, saying it raised questions about the election’s “integrity” and seemed to aim to “interfere in numbers and participation rates.”
Legal advisor of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Adel Ramadan told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the decision is illegal and invalid.
“The presidential law stipulates to publish any modifications in the state-run newspaper,” Ramadan said, who added that the decision to extend the vote by one day was not published.
Article 26 of the law says the voting will be held on one day but the commission can extend it by another day, Ramadan said.
Former head of Journalists Syndicates Makram Mohamed Ahmed said the decision was wrong and reflects the confusion and the mal administration of HPEC.
“They should have contacted the two contenders before taking such decision,” Ahmed said on Al-Mehwar channel.
Starting from the first hours of the presidential poll, several media outlets urged Egyptians to vote, worrying that turnout was weaker than expected.
In an effort to get voters to cast their ballots and achieve a high turnout, the Egyptian government took several steps; it announced that Tuesday a national holiday, that trains will be free of charge to drive more people to travel and vote in their affiliated polling stations, and they finally announced that eligible voters who will not cast their ballots will be fined 500 EGP.