Egyptians Choose First President Since Mubarak in Landmark Vote
Egyptians head to the polls today to choose the first president since the removal of Hosni Mubarak, passing a milestone in the country’s march toward civilian rule after more than 15 months of turmoil.
The vote, which ends tomorrow, pits secularists, Islamists, supporters of last year’s revolt and former members of the ousted regime against each other, making it the first truly competitive presidential race in Egypt’s history. No clear favorite has emerged, raising the likelihood that two-day run- offs will be held on June 16. Final results would then be released on June 21.
“Before, it was all fixed and there was no real election,” Sayed Abdullah, a 52-year-old contractor, said in Cairo’s Matariya neighborhood. “God willing, this time it will be a fair vote. It’s the first time that the people have a real say.”
The election follows more than a year of instability and the worst economic slowdown in at least a decade. Protests have escalated into bouts of deadly violence between security forces and demonstrators demanding the ruling generals transfer power to civilians. Wrangling between the military-appointed government and the Islamist-dominated parliament has stymied efforts to secure an International Monetary Fund loan to revive the economy.
Still, the vote may not spell an end to political tensions, said Ashraf el-Sherif, adjunct lecturer in political science at the American University in Cairo.
“If the winner is a candidate who believes in change, then he will run into the powers that have been dominating the system and the state apparatuses,” el-Sherif said. “If he wants to reproduce the old system then we’ll be back to square one and popular anger will continue.”