Egyptians set election as Gaza war overshadows presidential poll

Egyptians are heading to the polls on Sunday to vote in a presidential election overshadowed by the Gaza war and a severe domestic economic crisis.

The election will take place over three days, until Tuesday, with incumbent President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi widely expected to win a third term in office.

Regardless of growing discontent with soaring inflation at home, al-Sissi has regained some popular support as many Egyptians agree with his warnings against the feared displacement of Gazans to neighbouring Egypt amid the ongoing Israeli onslaught.

He says any such migration would undermine the Palestinian cause.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, Mr al-Sissi has also cautioned that displacing Palestinians to Egypt would turn the Sinai Peninsula into a launch pad for attacks against Israel.

Besides Mr al-Sissi, three other candidates are running for office.

Mr Al-Sissi, an ex-army chief, did not give any campaign interviews, but his diplomatic engagements on Gaza have largely served that purpose.

People watched his press conferences alongside foreign dignities as the war on Gaza near Egypt’s north-eastern border took the spotlight away from domestic problems, including a lack of freedom of expression.

Last month, he gave a public speech to thousands of people held at the Cairo stadium to show solidarity with Palestinians.

Moreover, giant billboards with his pictures are seen across Cairo, dwarfing those of the three other contenders.

They are Mr Farid Zahran, a leftist politician heading the Social Democratic Party; Mr Abdel-Sanad Yamama, the head of the liberal Wafd party; and Mr Hazem Omar, the founder of the liberal People’s Republican Party.

More than 9,300 polling stations across Egypt will be open from 9 am (0700 GMT) for 12 hours.

Some 67 million Egyptians are eligible to vote, according to Egyptian media.

Final official results are expected to be announced on December 18.