Ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won 96.9 percent of votes in Egypt’s presidential election, the electoral commission announced Tuesday, almost a year after he overthrew elected Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.
Turnout in last week’s election, hastily extended to three days amid fears of low turnout, was 47.45 percent, said commission chief Anwar Rashad al-Asi.
Sisi’s rival Hamdeen Sabbahi won just three percent of the vote, excluding spoiled ballots.
Sisi’s lopsided victory had been certain, with many lauding the retired field marshal as a hero for ending Morsi’s divisive rule in July.
Yet the lower-than-expected turnout — Sisi himself had urged more voters to come out — signalled a wide segment of the population was apathetic or boycotted the election.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, crushed by a massive crackdown following his overthrow and detention, had boycotted the vote.
Some journalists and government employees erupted in applause and danced as the final results were announced at a press conference.
Police outside the press conference hall passed flowers to journalists as they left, and fruit juice cartons with a sticker reading: “Congratulations to Egypt.”
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who opposed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and backed his ouster, immediately called for a donors conference to help Egypt after the results were announced.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where protesters had battled police three years ago in an uprising to overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak, several thousand Sisi supporters celebrated and set off fire works.
“We are celebrating the hope of restoring stability and security,” said Naela Mahmoud, a school principal.
But her daughter, Hala Abu Fadl, 29, recalled the past violence in the iconic square, once synonomous with rebellion against Mubarak and the army, which took over between his overthrow and Morsi’s election in June 2012.
“Celebrating here is difficult,” she said, pointing to a mural depicting a slain protester, at the entrance of a street where activists clashed with police and soldiers in 2011.
“I voted for Sisi for stability, but I fear a crackdown on freedoms,” she said.
Sisi, appointed by Morsi as defence minister before he overthrew him, has suggested he would not tolerate protests as he moved to restore the battered economy.
More than three years after Mubarak’s overthrow, the economy has tanked with unrest driving away much needed tourist revenues and foreign investment.
Following Morsi’s overthrow, the interim government unleashed an extensive crackdown that killed at least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, in street clashes.
Militant attacks have killed almost 500 policemen and soldiers, mostly in the restive Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.