Millions turn out for Egypt election

 

Millions of Egyptians
are going to the polling stations to freely choose their first president
since last year's removal of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.

After decades of authoritarian rule, people waited patiently in long lines across the nation.

Thirteen candidates, who include Islamists, liberals and Mubarak regime figures, are contesting the election. No outright winner is expected to emerge from the two-day vote so a run-off between the two top finishers will be held on June 16 and 17. The winner will be announced on June 21.

For most of his 29-year rule, Mubarak - like his predecessors - ran unopposed in yes-or-no referendums.

Rampant fraud guaranteed ruling party victories in parliamentary elections. Even in 2005, when Mubarak let challengers oppose him in elections, he ended up not only trouncing his liberal rival but jailing him.

Egypt's next president will be the nation's fifth since the monarchy was toppled following a 1952 coup that ushered in six decades of de facto military rule. Like his three predecessors - Anwar Sadat, Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Mohammed Naguib - Mubarak has a military background.

Many of the candidates in the race have called for amendments in Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which most Egyptians continue to view as their nation's number one enemy.

Though none is likely to dump the pact, a victory by any of the Islamist or leftist candidates could mean strained ties with Israel and a stronger backing for the Palestinians in the peace process.

The generals who have taken over from Mubarak after an 18-day uprising forced him to step down 15 months ago have promised to hand over power by July 1, ending a turbulent transitional period defined by deadly street clashes, a faltering economy, a dramatic surge of crime and human rights abuses.

The military has said it has no intention to cling on to power, but it is not clear what authority it wants to retain after the election of a new president. The generals have said they have no preferred candidate, but they are widely thought to be favouring Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander and Mubarak's last prime minister who has steadily gained in opinion polls over the past week.

Other front-runners are Mubarak's foreign minister of 10 years Amr Moussa, Mohammed Morsi of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a moderate Islamist whose inclusive platform has won him the support of some liberals, leftists and minority Christians.

The election comes less than two weeks before Mubarak, 84, is due to be sentenced after he was tried on charges of complicity in the killing of 900 protesters during the uprising against his rule. He also faced corruption charges with his two sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa.

Whoever wins will face the unenviable task of having to tackle a host of formidable problems, ranging from the economy, tenuous security and soaring unemployment. The next president will serve a four-year term.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence