Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urges high Egypt vote turnout as campaign closes

Written by AFP | Cairo | Updated: May 24 2014, 20:11pm hrs
Presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who stepped down as army chief to run for office, urged Egyptians today to vote in large numbers in next week's election.

Sisi, lauded by millions for having ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, is expected to trounce his only rival, leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi, in the vote on Monday and Tuesday.

"You went down (to the streets) because Egypt was in danger on June 30," 2013, Sisi said in an interview to four television channels.

He was referring to Egyptians who poured on to the streets that day in their millions to demand Morsi's resignation after a turbulent year in power.

"You need to go down now more than any other time in (the country's) history. Go down, show to the entire world that there are 40, 45 (million) or even more" voters casting their ballots.

Sisi ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, after the mass rallies accusing him of monopolising power and wrecking an already dilapidated economy.

Riding on a wave of popularity, retired field marshal Sisi has not addressed any public rally during campaigning, which came to a close today.

Sisi, in the interview, reiterated his backing for a controversial law banning all but police-authorised demonstrations.

"It's not that it is unacceptable to me, but the situation does not permit. Society wants to move on ... Can people tolerate protests that are not regulated given the current situation" Sisi asked.

"The protest law is there to regulate protests not to ban protests."

Egypt has been rocked by deadly protests since the ouster of Morsi, with his supporters staging rallies which often lead to violent clashes with security forces and the anti-Morsi camp.

Amnesty International says more than 1,400 people have been killed in street violence as police crack down on Morsi supporters.

During the election campaign, supporters of Sabbahi regularly formed human chains.

Most of his supporters are youths demanding the democratic reforms at the core of Egypt's 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.