Food for votes? Egyptians say it pays to support el-Sissi

Businessmen loyal to Egypt's president are handing out cash and food to poor voters as they try to gather tens of thousands of signatures to support his bid for re-election in March.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is virtually assured of winning a second four-year term. Nearly all prominent critics have been jailed, left the country or gone silent. Three presidential hopefuls, including a former prime minister who could have lit up the race and a human rights lawyer, have withdrawn. A retired general has been arrested.

That has raised the distinct possibility that the March 26-28 election will effectively be a single-candidate referendum, similar to those held by autocratic leaders in the decades before the 2011 uprising.