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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora