• 19:43
  • Wednesday ,21 May 2014
العربية

Killings Heighten Tension Around Egyptian Election

By-ntimes

Home News

00:05

Wednesday ,21 May 2014

Killings Heighten Tension Around Egyptian Election

Three riot police officers trying to break up a student protest against Egypt’s military-backed government were killed in a drive-by shooting in Cairo on Tuesday as early results from expatriate voters confirmed that the military’s former leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was headed for a big victory in next week’s presidential election.

The riot police were dispersing a demonstration by hundreds of students of Al-Azhar University that began late Monday when someone in a passing vehicle opened fire, state media reported. Several other soldiers were injured.
 
The shooting revived fears of violence around the presidential election, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. During the two weeks of campaigning so far, unknown assailants have also attacked or set fire to at least three Sisi campaign offices, in the Nile Delta, Cairo, and Luxor, according to official media reports.
 
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In the 10 months since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Islamist militants have attacked and killed several hundred soldiers and police officers, either for revenge or to try to start an insurgency.
 
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In Cairo, people walked by a poster of Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the presidential candidate is a former Egyptian Army chief. Credit Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
Mr. Sisi, who recently dropped the title of field marshal and left the military to run as a civilian, is expected to easily defeat his one opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, who was the third-biggest vote-getter in the first round of the 2012 election, which chose Mr. Morsi as president.
 
Mr. Sisi and Mr. Sabahi are campaigning as populist, nationalist and anti-Islamist heirs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the longtime Arab nationalist president. But Mr. Sisi is the clear candidate of the military, political and business establishment. He has been celebrated as a hero by the state and private media and others fearful of political Islam since he ousted Mr. Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. His pictures hang everywhere, and his campaign has outspent Mr. Sabahi’s shoestring effort by more than 10 to 1.
 
Mr. Sabahi’s campaign has sought to portray him as the candidate of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak while painting Mr. Sisi as the candidate of the military, the old guard and the state. But Mr. Sabahi has struggled to get his message out through the din of popular acclaim for Mr. Sisi.
 
The Brotherhood, which dominated the only free elections held in Egypt, in 2011 and 2012, has been outlawed by the military-installed government, which calls the organization a terrorist group. Mr. Morsi and most of the Brotherhood’s other senior figures are in jail, along with tens of thousands of their supporters. Its leaders in exile have called for a boycott of the election.
 
Several other past presidential candidates — a rights activist, another former general, and a popular Islamist moderate — declined to compete this time because they deemed the race rigged in Mr. Sisi’s favor.
 
So far, Mr. Sisi has received more than 90 percent of the votes cast at embassies and consulates by Egyptians living abroad, according to preliminary results released Tuesday by the Sisi campaign and published by the Egyptian state media.
 
About 300,000 Egyptians abroad voted, state media reported, saying the numbers were comparable to those for the 2012 presidential election.