News / Middle East

Egyptians Vote in Historic Presidential Election

Egyptian army soldiers, right, stand guard as hundreds of Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012. Egyptian army soldiers, right, stand guard as hundreds of Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
x
Egyptian army soldiers, right, stand guard as hundreds of Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
Egyptian army soldiers, right, stand guard as hundreds of Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - Millions of Egyptians stood in long lines Wednesday to cast ballots in the first presidential election since President Hosni Mubarak resigned last year amid massive protests.

The buildup to the contentious election has largely pitted candidates representing the old guard tied to Mubarak against Islamists trying to form new coalitions. In all, 13 candidates are on the ballot, but one has dropped out of the race. The voting will stretch over two days.

Voters lined up for blocks, waiting sometimes for hours to cast their ballot.

Voter Noha Kamal is relieved that, finally, her vote will count, after years of Mubarak winning tightly-controlled votes.

“This is the first time that we can choose, yes," Kamal said. "In the past 30 years we passed through a lot of questionnaires - 'is it ok or not to retain our president.' Every time, I didn't go.”

Egyptians Flock to Polls for Historic Electioni
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott
May 23, 2012
Egyptians are taking part in a historic election, having an unprecedented say in choosing their next president. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo on this key step in Egypt's post-revolution transition.

Varied candidates

Opinion polls show four front runners.  They include two Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and independent Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, and two members of the old guard - veteran diplomat Amr Moussa and former Air Force commander Ahmed Shafik.  Another candidate, socialist Hamdeen Sabahi has also been emerging in recent polls.

Religion has been central to most campaigns, but Cairo University student Howaida Magdi wishes otherwise. She says she's a Muslim, but she focuses on politics.  Religion, she says, is everyone's personal choice, but it's “not the way to judge politicians.”

There are other key issues - the faltering economy and ongoing instability, with continuing protests, crackdowns and crime - issues that play into the campaigns of Moussa and Shafik who emphasize a return to order.

For some Egyptians, like voter Galal, the transition has been overwhelming, something he hopes whoever wins, be they old guard, or Islamists, will fix.

"We're tired," he said. “Flour is sold on the black market, People do not fear God.”  He wants “the Egyptian nation to be united.”

  • Female Egyptians cast their votes during the second day of presidential elections in Cairo, May 24, 2012.
  • Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter shakes hands with an official from Al-Azhar in Cairo May 24, 2012. Carter is in Egypt as part of the mission of his Carter Center to monitor presidential elections.
  • An Egyptian man checks a list of voters in the country's presidential election at a polling site in the Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • Post-revolution pride is on display outside voting stations, Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • An Egyptian man holds a poster of former prime minister and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, with Arabic that reads " Egypt for all", in front of a wall sprayed with anti-police graffiti in Cairo, May 22, 2012.
  • An Egyptian man cast his vote inside a polling station in Old Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • Islamic presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi arrives to a polling station to cast his vote in Al-Sharqya, 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Cairo, May 23, 2012.
  • Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012.
  • Presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh waves outside a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012.
  • Women came with their children to take part in the historic poll, Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Egyptian voters line up to cast ballots in a southern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • An Egyptian woman inks her finger after casting her vote during the first day of the presidential election in polling center in Alexandria, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • A polling station official waits for the next voter, Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • An Egyptian woman shows her inked after casting her vote during the first day of the presidential election in a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • Women line up waiting to cast their vote at a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012.
  • Ahmed Maher, a co-founder of the April 6 Revolutionary Movement, waits in line to vote at a polling center in a southern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • An Egyptian woman casts her vote during the first day of the presidential election in a polling center in Alexandria, Egypt, May 23, 2012.
  • Poll workers check IDs against voter lists, Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Men cast their vote at a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012.

Voters uncertain

Others worry that the recent upheaval and decades of political repression have left Egyptians unprepared.

Voter Said Zaki says people are too easily swayed by the last candidate they heard from.

“We don't have confidence,” he said, “not even in ourselves.”

But Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef says perhaps more important will be if people have confidence in the outcome of the vote, which could go to a run-off next month.

“We are also entering these elections without a constitution and you need a judiciary that Egyptians can trust, you need a president who is seen as legitimate even if he is not the preferred candidate," she said.

Morayef feels there may be some irregularities, but not the full-scale vote-rigging of the past.

At a polling station in southern Cairo, a woman who identifies herself only as “an Egyptian voter” acknowledges the vote isn't perfect.

“I don't think this election - it's fantastic to have an election - but I don't think it's going to represent the true wishes of the Egyptian people," she said.

But, she added, it's a first step - a first step on a very long road.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid