Along a busy Cairo roundabout, a poster portrays presidential front-runner Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as a teacher, engineer, doctor and judge, reassuring supporters who see him as Egypt's savior.

But in other neighborhoods, opponents splash red paint on the image of the face of the man who toppled Egypt's first freely elected president, and who they say has blood on his hands for ordering a violent crackdown.

The former army chief is expected to easily win the country's presidential election, which kicked off Monday and runs through Tuesday. If he does, he will take over a polarized country with immense challenges: from an energy crisis to an Islamist militant insurgency that has sharply worsened since el-Sissi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi last year.