Egyptians head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new pro-Sisi parliament. The election has been delayed and itÂ will tighten President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s grip on power after he crushed all opposition since removing his predecessor Mohammed Morsi from power in 2013.
The vote for the 596-member parliament will be staged in two phases ending on 2 December, with Egyptians abroad casting their votes for the first round from Saturday. But with an absence of opposition parties – including the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood that has faced a deadly government crackdown overseen by Sisi – polling has inspired none of the enthusiasm witnessed for Egypt’s first democratic elections in 2011.
Experts say the outcome of the election is a foregone conclusion and only voter turnout will be a gauge of popularity for the former General Sisi. Most of the more than 5,000 candidates in the polls overwhelmingly support Sisi and are expected to dominate parliament.
Many Egyptians tired of political turmoil since the 2011 revolution against veteran leader Hosni Mubarak support Sisi, who has vowed to revive an ailing economy and restore stability amid a deadly crackdown targeting supporters of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi. Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected civilian leader, was ousted by then army chief Sisi on 3 July 2013, after mass street protests against his divisive year-long rule. An ensuing government crackdown overseen by Sisi and targeting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.Â Hundreds more including Morsi have been sentenced to death after speedy trials, which the United Nations denounced as “unprecedented in recent history”.
Sisi, meanwhile, won a presidential election in 2014. Scores of policemen and soldiers have been killed in militant attacks since the crackdown on Islamists began, with the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group leading a deadly insurgency in North Sinai.
Sisi enjoys support of Western countries who have signed major arms deals with Cairo to back him in the fight against militants.