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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora