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Egyptians Queue to Elect Mubarak Successor

Published: 24/05/2012 12:18:07 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Egyptian voters queued Thursday, May 24, in the second day of voting to elect a new president to replace autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular revolt last year. I came yesterday and found it (more)

CAIRO - Egyptian voters queued Thursday, May 24, in the second day of voting to elect a new president to replace autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular revolt last year.

"I came yesterday and found it very crowded so I came today," Khaled Abdou, a 25-year-old engineer, told Reuters.

"I must participate in choosing the president and I hope this leads to stability and the change needed."

More than 100 voters were already queuing at one Cairo voting station when the polls reopened at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT).Islamists, Liberals Vie for Egypt Presidency (Special Page)

Turnout on Wednesday seemed lower than in an earlier parliamentary vote when Islamists swept up most seats.

Long queues and a scorching sun deterred some voters and many government workers will have delayed voting to Thursday, when they have a day off.

Some 50 million are eligible to cast ballot in the presidential vote, the first since a popular revolt unseated Mubarak last year.

Thirteen candidates are vying in the vote, including Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Mursi, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh and former premier Ahmed Shafiq.

The Muslim Brotherhood said its candidate, Mursi, was ahead after Wednesday's voting.

Moussa's campaign office also put Mursi in the lead with the former League chief second.

If, as expected, no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a second round between the top two candidates will be held on June 16 and 17.

First-round results may be clear by Saturday, but an official announcement is not due until Tuesday.

Jubilance

Voters reveled in their new ability to influence a genuinely contested election after decades of rigged votes under Mubarak.

"This is the first time that I vote in my entire life,” Mohamed Mustafa, a 52-year-old engineer in Cairo's Zamalek district, told Reuters.

“I didn't take part in past elections because we knew who would be president.

“This is the first time we don't know.”

After a campaign that gave Egyptians their first U.S.-style presidential TV debate, some voters found themselves waiting with candidates who made a point of not pushing to the front.

Independent Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul-Futuh, 60, was clapped on joining a Cairo queue.

Mursi, 60, said after voting in the Nile Delta city of Zagazig that Egyptians would not accept anyone from Mubarak's "corrupt former regime."

When Shafiq, 70, arrived to vote in Cairo, protesters hurled shoes and stones at him.

"The coward is here. The criminal is here," they cried. "Down with military rule."

Like Mubarak, Shafiq commanded the air force before joining the cabinet.

The former prime minister, who was appointed days before Mubarak fell and who quit soon afterwards amid protests against him in Tahrir Square, is one of the most divisive candidates.

He appeals to those who want a strongman to restore order, but others see him as embodying everything they want changed.

Moussa, 75, left Mubarak's cabinet a decade before the uprising.

At the Arab League, he built on his popularity with criticism of Israel and US policy in the region. Yet some still brand him a remnant of the old order.

For many of those who cannot stomach Islamists or Mubarak-era ministers, the favorite is leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, 57.

Independent monitors noted minor infringements in Wednesday's voting, such as campaigning outside polling stations, but said they did not undermine its validity.Whoever wins faces the daunting tasks of mending a broken economy and re-establishing security, both big public concerns.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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