Hakim dancing to “Father of Manhood” in his video clip – YouTube still image from Hakim’s official channel.
CAIRO – 25 March 2018: Egyptians are preparing for a three-day election; the authorities are working around the clock to ensure a smooth, secure process in hopes for a high turnout, and many voters are waiting for a celebratory occasion from Monday to Wednesday.
One of Egypt’s most loved pop singers, Hakim, released a video clip on March 20, calling on Egyptians to vote. The song, “Abu el-Rugula”, literally translates into “father of manhood” is expected be the song voters would dance to outside polling stations with the country’s flag. The song shows Egyptians from different governorates in their traditional clothing going about their daily lives, dancing, and waving the Egyptian flag.
In the 2014 election, in which President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi won by a landslide against socialist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, videos spread of men and women dancing outside polling stations, mainly to a hit by Emirati singer Hussain al-Jassmi.
At the time, when strong feelings of both pro- and anti-overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood were still raging, Islamists shared such videos on social media as evidence of moral decline in the country after their rule forcibly ended.
Meanwhile, many Egyptians actually danced out of spite against Brotherhood
supporters, who reportedly practiced social hegemony over their countrymen, and some of them went on to organize violent protests and perpetrate bombings.
Media coverage, electoral observation
The two-day electoral silence began Saturday, while the election abroad ran from March 16-18. The expat turnout is reportedly high, as Sisi thanked Egyptians living abroad for their intensive participation on Mother’s Day. Before the Jan. 25 Revolution in 2011, Egyptian expats were unable to vote.
Almost the entire country is covered in billboards supporting Sisi, sponsored by members of parliament, businesses and families. Sisi’s campaign hardly needed billboards themselves.
Military jets have already transferred judges tasked with supervising the poll in remote governorates, and their accommodation and polling stations are expected to be heavily secured. In May 2015, three judges were killed in a gun attack in Arish while on their way to attend court sessions.
The Ministry of Interior has integrated a media center to follow up and coordinate with the local and international media. The center operates 24 hours a day and is connected to the Permanent Military Operation Center, Media Center of the Interior Ministry and the State Information Service (SIS). Media outlets in Egypt said that press freedoms will expand after Sisi’s March 20 interview on DMC channel, in which he said people should voice their opinions freely, but without violence.
Meanwhile, accredited international and local civic organizations have embarked on pre-election monitoring measures by training their observers on Egypt’s electoral system, in accordance with the regulations set by the National Election Authority (NEA).
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hamdy Loza told MENA on Thursday that five regional and international organizations will observe the 2018 presidential election.
These organizations are the League of Arab States (LAS), African Union (AU), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Loza further elaborated that African observation of the 2018 presidential election symbolizes the solidarity between the African people and their Egyptian neighbors.
Tightened security measures, medical aid readiness
The Interior Ministry has announced a high alert across the country in view of the upcoming presidential election from March 26 until 28. However, on Saturday, two policemen were killed in a blast in central Alexandria after a bomb detonated to reportedly assassinate the city’s security chief, police Major General Mostafa al-Nemr.
But Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar told Al-Ahram newspaper that serious attention has been paid to the election security plan and thereby a state of emergency has been announced in all governorates of Egypt to ensure that security measures are already put in place at the 11,000 polling centers to facilitate the masses.
During the interview, the minister told Egypt’s citizens that their country is going through a tough war against terrorism. He stressed that confronting such evil requires all segments and parts of the country to integrate and join forces to preserve the nation's resources.
A security source in the Interior Ministry disclosed that all holidays and vacations were canceled for security personnel and officers until the electoral process is over.
The minister also stressed that he himself is supervising the election’s security plan and is constantly contacting his aids to ensure that all security measures are heightened in the face of any potential terrorist attack that may occur to disrupt the “democratic festival”.
Also, regular patrols are ordered to be beefed up around polling centers and facilities.
The election’s security plan is divided into three parts: the first one includes securing polling stations and judges monitoring the elections, while the second is about ensuring that the security measures are in place until the end of the vote counting process, the security source said, further stating that the third phase is about securing all state vital institutions, archeological sites and all main streets during the election and the period after electing the president.
Two hundred thousand officers were announced to be mobilized to secure the electoral process.
The Ministry of Health and Population set a comprehensive medical security plan to deal with any security-threatening incidents during the election slated for March 26-28.
As a part of the comprehensive medical plan, 2,887 equipped ambulances will be distributed across polling stations, centers for the final announcement of election results, as well as along main roads in each governorate in order to potentially deal with any threatening incidents during the election.
Assistant health minister in charge of emergency services, Sherif Wadie, told Egypt Today that the Ministry of Health requested putting the comprehensive plan into effect starting Sunday.
Wadie added that the plan includes a heightened readiness and emergency level at all aid facilities, as the Egyptian Ambulance Authority has coordinated with the Critical and Emergency Care Department to provide emergency doctors for each ambulance.
He remarked that three fully- equipped medical convoys, with different medical specialties, will be stationed in each governorate during the election. Enough emergency blood supplies and medicine for six months will be provided to all hospitals during the election.
He stated that holidays for employees at hospitals are unavailable during the election, particularly for those working in emergency sectors.
In the same context, the Interior Ministry has announced a state of high alert across the country in view of the upcoming presidential election.
A total of 60 million eligible voters will be able to cast their ballots in the election.
The results of the first round will be announced on April 2. If there is a need to hold a run-off round, Egyptian expatriates will cast their votes again on April 19, 20 and 21. The final results of the 2018 presidential election are expected to be announced on May 1.
The National Election Authority approved two official candidates for the 2018 presidential election:
1- Abdel Fatah al-Sisi Born on November 19, 1954, Sisi is the sixth incumbent president of Egypt; he has been in office since 2014.
Married to Entissar Amer, Sisi has three sons and one daughter.
Prior to becoming president, Sisi served in the Egyptian Armed Forces from 1977 to 2014.
He announced his intention to run in the 2018 presidential election during his closing speech at the end of the three-day “Tale of a Homeland” conference held on January 19.
2- Moussa Mostafa Moussa
Moussa, who studied architecture in France and heads the Egyptian Council for Arab Tribes, has been the chairman of Al-Ghad Party since September 2005.
Lawyer Samir Elaiwa submitted Moussa’s candidacy documents to the NEA 15 minutes prior to the closing deadline.
Moussa announced that he had collected 20 endorsements from members of Parliament, and that he had garnered the support of 40,000 citizens in various governorates.