Egyptians vote in landmark elections | News | DW | 23.05.2012
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Egyptians vote in landmark elections

Egyptians went to the polls Wednesday on the first day of presidential elections seen as an important step in the country's transition to democracy. Voting has been running smoothly apart from isolated incidents.

Egyptians on Wednesday cast their ballots on the first day of landmark free elections as they voted for a new president.

More than 50 million eligible voters from a population of 80 million have been choosing from among 13 candidates that include both Islamists and secular figures.

Turnout on the first day of the two-day poll has been described as moderate, and voting was extended for another hour on Wednesday. Thursday has been declared a public holiday to encourage voters.

The elections are the first free poll in over 30 years, following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising 15 months ago. Independent monitors say they have seen no major abuses.

Voting has been largely calm. However, a policeman guarding a polling station in the capital, Cairo, was shot dead in an exchange of fire with suspected criminals, state television reported.

The report said a gunman and a passing motorist were also injured by the gunfire.

Attack on candidate

In another incident, protesters attacked the candidate Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, as he voted at another Cairo polling station late in the day.

Witnesses said Shafiq, 70, was not hurt as shoes and stones were thrown at his convoy.

Other contenders include former foreign minister and Arab League head Amr Moussa, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, independent Islamist Abdel-Monaem Abul-Fetouh and the leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahy.

The Egyptian election system will require a run-off between the top two candidates if no one gets more than the half of votes needed to win outright. This would take place on June 16 and 17.

The final result would be announced on June 21.

First-round results will be formally announced on Tuesday, but the outcome may be clear as early as Saturday.

tj/sej (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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