Egypt votes for new president

El-Sissi expected to win easily

Egyptians vote for a new president on 26 and 27 May, two years after Islamist Mohammed Morsi became the nation's first democratically elected leader.

The elections come ten months after Morsi was removed from power by the person almost certain to become Egypt's next president, retired military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 presidential race.

The election is taking place amid tight security and official results are expected to be announced on 5 June. El-Sissi supporters herald him as the only person capable of restoring stability and reviving the economy of the nation which has been in turmoil since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

However critics of the 59-year-old former army chief compare him to the autocratic Mubarak. Islamists in particular are vehemently opposed to his clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood which has been banned, broken up and listed as a terror organisation.

Some 16,000 Brotherhood members have been arrested and the 86-year-old movement is now just a shell of the powerful force it had become under Morsi. Its leaders – including Morsi – face multiple trials on charges that could result in execution.

El-Sissi accuses the Brotherhood of using militant groups as a front to destabilise the country, and both he and Sabahi have vowed never to let the Brotherhood back into Egyptian politics. From the outset el-Sissi has made it clear that, once elected, he “cannot perform miracles” but analysts predict that if he doesn't produce prompt results his popularity could fade rapidly.

The country's next president will be the eighth since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1953.