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Egypt presidential vote extended to third day

By Salma Abdelaziz, Reza Sayah and Dina Amer, CNN
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Both candidates object to extension, their campaigns say
  • Move comes amid concerns, expressed by Egyptian TV hosts, that turnout has been low
  • Adviser to one candidate says move opens "door to possible vote violations and rigging"

Egyptians, do you plan to vote in the presidential election? Tell us why or why not.

(CNN) -- Voting in Egypt's presidential election will be extended into a third day Wednesday to allow citizens a greater chance to vote, election officials announced Tuesday in a move criticized by both candidates' campaigns.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the candidates' complaints would have any effect on the decision by the country's election commission.

The election, initially scheduled only for Monday and Tuesday, pits former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi against Hamdeen Sabahy.

"We strongly denounce the (election commission's) decision to extend voting another day. Extending the voting period for no real plausible reason will open the door to possible vote violations and rigging," said Hussein AbdelGhany, a top adviser to Sabahy.

The election commission extended the voting in part so that people living in areas away from where they are registered can return to vote, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

No numbers have been released, but the move comes amid concerns expressed in Egyptian media that the turnout has been low. TV hosts this week openly criticized voters for not participating.

At the few dozen polling places that CNN visited or drove by in the Cairo area this week, there were no significant lines of people waiting to vote.

The move also comes after Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, late Monday night, declared Tuesday a public holiday "in compliance to citizens' wishes," state TV reported. The decision was thought to be a move to increase turnout.

Both campaigns said they filed complaints against the commission's extension. AbdelGhany said Sabahy would consider withdrawing from the race if his complaint was ignored.

The election was called because then-President Mohamed Morsy was removed from power in July in a popular military coup. El-Sisi, who was army chief at the time, stepped down from his military post this year to run for president.

READ: Egypt elections: 5 things to know

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READ: Analysis: Can Egypt's presidential candidates transform economic fortunes?

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