Egypt’s Sisi urges high voter turnout ahead of election
Presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who stepped down as army chief to run for office, urged Egyptians on Friday to vote in large numbers in next week's election, Alarabiya reported.
Sisi, lauded by millions for having ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi 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 Mursi'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 Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected president, after the mass rallies accusing him of monopolizing 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 Friday.
Sisi, in the interview, reiterated his backing for a controversial law banning all but police-authorized 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 Mursi, with his supporters staging rallies which often lead to violent clashes with security forces and the anti-Mursi camp.
On Friday, two people were killed in separate clashes between Islamist protesters and their opponents after midday prayers, authorities said.
The Health Ministry said one person was killed in Cairo and another in the oasis town of Fayoum, about 80 kilometers southwest of the Egyptian capital. At least 23 people were hurt, the ministry added.
In the northern Cairo district of Matareya, violence broke out during a protest by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the Associated Press quoted security officials as saying.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The officials said that some anti-Brotherhood residents opened fire at the Islamist rally, but several protesters claimed the shots were fired by security forces dressed in civilian clothes, based on the type of weapons used in the shooting.
The protesters spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their own safety. The claim could not be independently confirmed.
Amnesty International says more than 1,400 people have been killed in street violence as police crackdown on Mursi 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.