The vote by Egyptians living abroad for Egypt’s next president closed on 19 May. At least 265,000 expatriates have taken part in the election, according to state media.

Residents in the North African country are preparing to vote from 26 May and the competition between presidential hopefuls former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi is intensifying.

Sabahi came third in the 2012 elections, which saw former president Mohamed Mursi win the presidency. Al-Sisi was the former head of the army and defence minister in the interim government that came into power after the overthrow of Mursi. He is widely tipped as the favourite for the leadership role.

Results of a poll released on 14 May, carried out by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion (Baseera), found that nearly 15 per cent of Egyptians have yet to decide on their preferred candidate.

The EU has confirmed it will be conducting an Egypt-wide observation of the election process. The announcement follows a dispute between the EU and Cairo about the delivery of key equipment to be used to monitor voting.

The EU did send some observation teams to Cairo, but the lack of equipment meant it was unable to have teams up and running across the country. The equipment was finally released by the country’s Foreign Ministry on 19 May.

“Due to administrative challenges, these observers were not deployed as envisaged,” said chief observer Mario David, member of the European Parliament from Portugal, in a press conference in Cairo.  

“However, thanks to joint efforts and the constructive engagement of the Egyptian authorities, I am pleased to announce the EU Election Observation Mission is [now] able to continue to observe the presidential elections in Egypt as widely as possible throughout the country.”

Results of the election are expected to be released no later than 26 June.