Turnout low in Egyptian election shunned by critics

Egyptians turned out in low numbers yesterday to vote in the first phase of an election hailed by president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a milestone on the road to democracy but shunned by critics who say the new chamber will rubber -stamp his decisions.

With most of Sisi’s opponents behind bars, critics say the new chamber is unlikely to challenge the former army chief who toppled Egypt’s first freely-elected president in 2013.

Egypt has had no parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically-elected main chamber, then dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, reversing a key accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi ousted elected president Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood after mass protests against him and then launched the fiercest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history.

Visits by Reuters correspondents to polling stations showed light turnout, in contrast to the long lines that formed at the last, Islamist-dominated election in 2012.

Most voters interviewed were elderly supporters of Sisi, who has brought a sense of stability after years of political turmoil but has been accused by human rights groups of crushing opponents. He denies the allegations.

In the Cairo neighbourhood of Gezirat al-Dahab, a judge at a polling station said only about 10% of 9,000 registered voters had taken part.

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