in el-Sissi’s favor.
US-based Democracy International, which had been observing the vote, said the extension “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”
It said its observer teams outside of Cairo had ended their mission as scheduled on Tuesday. Some other international monitoring teams also left the country, since they had only planned for two days of voting, though EU monitors stayed on.
Sabahi, el-Sissi’s only opponent in the race, protested the extension, saying it aimed to “distort” the will of the people. His campaign pulled its representatives from polling stations on Wednesday in protest against what it called a campaign of intimidation and arrests of its campaign workers.
He, however, refused to bow to pressure from his camp to withdraw in protest, arguing that staying in the race qualifies him to “fight future battles.”
Sabahi’s spokesman, Hossam Moenis, told ONTV network that a member of the campaign has been referred to a military tribunal.
“We are digging a channel for democracy … in the face of an undemocratic project,” he said. “The same mentality that we thought we managed to topple on Jan. 25, is back and ruling” — a reference to the start of the 18-day, anti-Mubarak uprising in 2011.
Only a handful of voters, or none at all, were at polling centers in multiple districts toured by The Associated Press reporters on Wednesday.
At some, music played and kids painted Egyptian flags or el-Sissi’s name on their faces as the occasional voter drifted in. TV images beamed from more than a dozen locations across Egypt showed similar scenes.
“People are lazy, depressed or frustrated. They knew what the result will be even before the vote,” said Amani Fikry, a manager in a privately-owned company. “They are exhausted from three years of constant troubles.”
In Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab district, loudspeakers played patriotic songs at an empty polling center. Two el-Sissi backers scribbled words of support on posters of the candidate that had been defaced with insulting graffiti.
“Sissi doesn’t need a program,” said one, Mohammed Hussein. “We just want security.”
Morsi’s Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists boycotted the vote and scattered protests by Morsi supporters were quickly dispersed by security forces.
In Fayoum, the province southwest of Cairo, riot police fired tear gas after protesters hurled stones and fire cracks while marching and chanting slogans against elections.
Along with Islamists, some of the youths who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak either stayed away from the polls or supported Sabahi.
“Where are the youth? What do they want? Do they want to destroy Egypt?” Said Sayyed, a laundry worker in his 70s, said of the boycott.