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.
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.”


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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs