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Egypt Votes in 2nd Day for President

Published: 17/06/2012 12:18:14 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Egyptian voters cast their ballot in a second day of voting on Sunday, July 17, to elect a new president between a former general from the old regime or an Islamist from the long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood. We h (more)

CAIRO - Egyptian voters cast their ballot in a second day of voting on Sunday, July 17, to elect a new president between a former general from the old regime or an Islamist from the long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood.

"We have to vote because these elections are historic," Amr Omar, a young revolutionary, told Reuters after casting ballot in Cairo.

"I will vote for Morsi," he said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate.

"We must break the vicious cycle of Mubarak's police state."

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The polls feature Morsi, a US-educated engineer who offers Egypt a new start as an Islamic democracy, and Ahmed Shafiq, the last premier of deposed president Hosni Mubarak.

Polls, which started on Saturday, re-opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday (02.00 a.m. EDT).

Turnout at polling stations in several areas seemed lower on Saturday than during the first round.

"The Egyptian people have chosen freedom and are practicing democracy," Morsi said as he cast his vote on Saturday.

"The Egyptian people will not back down and I will lead them, God willing, towards stability and retribution."

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over from Mubarak last year, has promised to hand over power to the winner by June 30.

Morsi came first in last month's first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.

Official results gave Mursi 24.8% and Shafiq 23.7% and there are no clear polls indicating who may gain the upper hand in the run-off.

There are 351 committees and 13,097 sub-committees where 50.2 million eligible voters are expected to vote.

The runoff election follows a court ruling crediting Shafiq the right to run in this weekend's ballot and dissolving the lower house of Islamists-led parliament.

Mursi or Shafiq

But some voters are dissatisfied with both candidates in the runoff.

"I am on my way to vote and I'll spoil my ballot," 40-year-old shop owner Saleh Ashour told Reuters in Cairo.

"I'll cross out both Morsi and Shafiq because neither deserve to be president."

The vote comes in a tense situation over fears of violent reactions following the results.

A win for Shafiq, 70, may prompt Islamist claims of Mubarak-style vote-rigging and street protests by the disillusioned urban youths who made Cairo's Tahrir Square their battleground last year.

Should Morsi prevail, benefiting from a movement forged by decades of clandestine struggle and from support among those who put aside qualms about Islamic rule to block a return of the old regime, he may be frustrated by an uncooperative military elite.

The Brotherhood on Saturday again denounced the dissolution, based on a ruling by the Mubarak-era constitutional court, as "a coup against the whole democratic process" and insisted only a popular referendum could reverse the parliamentary election.

But though overturning that vote drew comparison with events that triggered the bloody Algerian civil war 20 years ago, the Brotherhood has shown little appetite for a violent showdown with Egypt's army, the biggest in the Arab world.

Should Shafiq win, his supporters reckon, he and the ruling military council which took sovereign powers when Mubarak quit would work in harmony to restore confidence, notably for the vital and ravaged tourist trade.

However, questions would remain over how far the Islamists and other opponents would resist.

Casting his vote on Saturday in the New Cairo district of the capital, businessman Ashraf Rashwan, 45, said hostility to the Brotherhood among the generals, who retain power and vast business interests, meant Morsi simply could not govern.

"They'll get no cooperation from the establishment. If Morsi wins, there will be a struggle that Egyptians - me at any rate - aren't ready for," he said.

"Shafiq will mean smooth transition. He's learned from Mubarak's failure to listen to the people."

Hassan Nafaa, a politics professor who campaigned against Mubarak, agrees.

"There is no doubt that the state in all its institutions - judicial, military, interior, foreign and financial - back Shafiq for president and are working to that end," he told Reuters."It is very difficult to eradicate this spirit of Mubarak."

Reproduced with permission from