NEW: Losing candidate concedes defeat, challenges the "credibility of the vote
NEW: Report: Turnout was 48%, below the figure for the last round of the 2012 vote
NEW: Interim president cancels pardons of 52 Islamists, including Brotherhood leaders
Ex-military chief El-Sisi won overwhelmingly, according to exit polls and state news
Former Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is poised to win his country’s presidential election in a landslide – though the legitimacy of his victory is already being questioned.
Exit polls suggest el-Sisi won 95.3% of the vote, while opponent Hamdeen Sabahy garnered only 4.7%, according to data from the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research and the Egyptian TV channel MBC Masr.
Egypt’s state-run Ahram Online news agency reported an even more lopsided margin, based on unofficial results, with Sabahy only getting 3.5% of the vote.
The final results will be announced by Saturday or Sunday, according to the same agency.
Sabahy, el-Sisi’s lone competitor, conceded defeat in a press conference Thursday, acknowledging, “It is time to respect the people’s choice and admit my loss.”
He didn’t embrace the process – including allegations his campaign representatives were attacked and detained, that el-Sisi’s representatives were allowed inside polling stations and claims of forgery – according to Ahram.
“We cannot give any credibility or ratification to the announced numbers of turnout or results,” Sabahy said. “The announced results are an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptians.”
Turnout at 48% despite extra day of voting
The election was called amid a turbulent political year in Egypt that saw Mohamed Morsy – the country’s first democratically elected president following the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak – himself removed from power in July in a military coup.
El-Sisi, who was army chief at the time, stepped down from his military post this year to run for president.
Analysts have said that – in order to demonstrate his legitimacy – el-Sisi would want to beat the turnout rate of the 2012 presidential elections, which was 46% in the first round and increased to 51.8%.
As it turned out, the country seemingly struggled to get voters to the polls this week. Officials even tacked on a third day of voting Wednesday – a move both campaigns challenged – in an attempt to boost turnout.
Presidential Elections Commission member Tarek Shebi ended up putting the final turnout figure at 48%, according to Ahram Online – hardly a resounding number.
El-Sisi’s campaign hailed the election on its official Facebook page, saying that all those involved helped “bedazzle” the world.
“The nation has put itself, with its great people’s will, on the beginning of the right track and has stepped firmly and trustingly … towards the future they’ve chosen,” the campaign post said, according to Ahram.
It is a future that – at least for now – will not include the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that Morsy belonged to and that has been banned and declared a terrorist organization since his ouster.
To this end, interim President Adly Mansour issued a decree Thursday canceling Morsy’s pardoning of 52 Islamists – including nine Brotherhood leaders and 18 jihadists – tied to a failed 1995 assassination attempt on Mubarak.
CNN’s Holly Yan, Salma Abdelaziz, Reza Sayah and Dina Amer contributed to this report