Presidential candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi appears to have swept voting in Damietta, earning more than 90 percent of votes according to initial press indicators, amid complaints of violations by observers from rival Hamdeen Sabbahi’s campaign.
In the more crowded race last year, former candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh won 23.9 percent in the first round of voting in Damietta, followed by Sabbahi, with 23.7 percent. Mohamed Morsi ended up winning in the runoff, with 56 percent of total votes, against former military general Ahmed Shafiq.
The experience of Sabbahi representatives in Damietta reflects countrywide violations the candidate complained about in a Wednesday video, saying his representatives had been prevented from entering polling stations, had witnessed “mass forgery,” and were even detained and presented before military prosecutors.
In Damietta, a prosperous Mediterranean port city around 22 kilometers northeast of Cairo along the eastern branch of the Nile River, the majority of the population works in furniture manufacturing, as well as in the sweets industry and farming.
Sisi delegates, usually middle-aged or older, were present in almost all the region’s polling stations, while Sabbahi delegates, usually in their twenties, either did not appear or did for a short while then left for other stations. Police, military officers and village mayors were seen inside polling centers in their municipalities.
In Sheikh Dorgham, Sisi campaign banners hung along the route to the polling station, and cars with speakers playing pro-military songs roamed the town. Dozens of apparent Sisi supporters stood outside of polling stations, clapping and celebrating.
Residents stopped the car of an international monitoring delegation on Tuesday to tell them that locals who support Sisi did not want to cast their votes because they said the men and women celebrating outside of the polling stations belong to the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), the party of former President Hosni Mubarak.
“People go and see the dirty faces of the old regime sitting outside the polling center then turn around. Sisi is a respectable man and the country needs him, but we don’t want those people back,” a Sheikh Dorgham resident said.