Sun, 17 Jan 2021

Billboards promoting little-known candidates have popped up across the capital Cairo and other cities in recent weeks, and online videos have explained the Senate's role and urged people to cast their ballots.

The balloting will extend for two days to allow for a maximum turnout with 63 million eligible voters who will choose two-thirds of the 300-member Senate, with 787 candidates running for those 200 Senate seats.

However, the Senate vote is unlikely to revitalise "the already stagnant political scene in Egypt", according to Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, political science professor at Cairo University.

"It could be useful in terms of being a way to reward those backing Sisi," he added.

Lasheen Ibrahim, chairman of the National Election Authority, called voting "a national duty" and warned in televised comments on Saturday that those who boycott the election could be fined up to 500 Egyptian pounds ($32) under an Egyptian law that has existed for years but was never really implemented.

The election comes despite an uptick in coronavirus cases this week.

Egypt, a country of more than 100 million people, has reported almost 96 000 cases with more than 5 000 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Egypt's latest constitutional amendments extended a president's term in office from four to six years, allowing for a maximum of two terms.

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