Former General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to become Egypt's new president as Egyptians go to the polls for the final day of voting. The election of Sisi is seen as a foregone conclusion, so voter turnout has become important as a measure of support for the former army chief, who led the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Results from early polling of Egyptians living abroad gave Sisi nearly 95 percent of the votes. However, on the second day of voting, turnout was reportedly low across Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood supporters are boycotting the election. Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb declared Tuesday a national holiday in order to increase turnout and government and media outlets urged voters to go to the polls. Sisi's sole competitor is left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third in the 2012 presidential vote, won by Morsi.
A team of weapons inspectors from a joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and U.N. mission came under attack on Tuesday, but the OPCW reported that all members of the team are safe and returning to their operational base. The experts are in Syria to investigate alleged chlorine gas attacks since April in Hama and Idlib provinces. The Syrian government reported six inspectors and five drivers were abducted as they were traveling to the rebel-held village of Kafr Zeita, in Hama province. However, the OPCW did not confirm the report of the kidnapping. The Syrian government has denied allegations by the opposition that it has used chlorine gas in attacks.
- Gunmen fired grenades at Libyan Prime Minister Ahmed Maitiq's home Tuesday leaving him unharmed just days after he won a vote of confidence from the parliament.
- Jordan has expelled Syria's ambassador, Bahjat Suleiman, for insulting the kingdom, and Syria responded by expelling Jordan's charge d'affaires from Damascus.
- Upon visiting the West Bank and Israel, Pope Francis endorsed the "State of Palestine" and invited Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Abbas for a prayer summit at the Vatican.
- Lebanon's president, Michel Suleiman, finished his term Sunday, leaving the office vacant after lawmakers failed to vote in five parliamentary sessions.
Arguments and Analysis
'Sisi could bring the stability Egypt needs - as long as he listens' (Magdi Abdelhadi, The Guardian)
"Let there be no doubt that Sisi is a conservative, authoritarian nationalist. But in this he is very much in tune with many Egyptians. Perhaps that is precisely why he's so popular.
However, authoritarianism has not succeeded in remedying Egypt's many ills in the past, and there is no reason to believe it will do so now. Transparency, accountability and rule of law is the answer. Therein lies Sisi's greatest challenge: to learn from the mistakes that have plunged Egypt in successive crises and made it fall so far short of its potential and promise."
'Libya's Transition: Towards Collapse' (Wolfram Lacher, German Institute for International and Security Affairs)
"Escalating power struggles are driving Libya's transitional process towards collapse. Under the rallying cry of fighting terrorism, disparate political forces are seeking to suspend the transitional framework. They have no viable alternative to offer. External actors have insufficient influence to successfully mediate among the conflicting parties - but sufficient influence to complicate matters further. Western governments' ambiguous signals partly reflect a serious miscalculation: the expectation that the political forces supporting renegade general Khalifa Haftar can succeed in establishing a new transitional framework and stabilize the country."-- Mary Casey
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