Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Egypt extends voting by one day as turnout is too low
A voting station on Wednesday (Ahram Online)
The Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) has extended voting in Egypt's presidential poll until Wednesday. Government sources said pressure was put on the commission because of “the unexpectedly low turnout” which “could end up being lower than in the 2012 presidential election runoff.”
The 2012 runoff was boycotted by many voters as it offered a choice between an Islamist, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. Turnout then reached 52 percent.
In his last public appearance before the ban on campaigning started on Saturday, El-Sisi said he hoped 40 million people would vote. Interim President Adly Mansour also appealed for Egyptians to "impress the world" with a big turnout.
In an attempt to boost turnout, the government announced on Monday night Tuesday would be a public holiday and banks would be closed. It also "encouraged" the PEC to extend voting by one hour on Tuesday because the hot weather was deterring voters.
One prominent television commentator said people who did not vote were "traitors, traitors, traitors".
Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Islamic authority, said a failure to vote was "to disobey the nation", state TV reported. Pope Tawadros, head of Egypt's Coptic church, also appeared on state TV to urge voters to head to the polls. On Tuesday, however, there was very little evidence that it had helped.