In a second day of voting, Egyptians went to the polls to choose their president. The military regime has promised to turn over power to a civilian government by July, but the powers of the president remain undefined.
Egyptians went to the polls for a second day of voting on Thursday in the country's first competitive presidential election, which pits Islamists against secularists and revolutionaries against former members of the Mubarak regime.
Turnout among Egypt's 50 million eligible voters is expected to be high on Thursday, which has been declared a national holiday to allow public employees to cast their ballot. Hot temperatures and long lines at polling stations had discouraged some Egyptians from voting on Wednesday.
"On May 23, 2012, Egyptians went to the polls to choose their leader for the first time in their history, freely and without fraud," the daily said.
The election has run relatively peacefully so far, with the exception of Ahmed Shafiq's motorcade being pelted with rocks and shoes as he went to cast his ballot. Shafiq, who has profiled himself as the candidate of law and order, is controversial because he served as former president Hosni Mubarak's final prime minister. Like Mubarak, he also served as commander of the air force.
Despite the tensions, the independent Al-Shorouk newspaper called the election "a day of happiness and pride."
"The fact that Egyptians are queuing up to choose the president of their republic, and that no one agrees on the name of the future president, this means something has changed," the newspaper said.
"For sure, the future won't be rosy just because we organized a presidential election, but we won't go back to how it was before," it said.
Secularists and Islamists
Egypt's presidential election pits secularists such as Shafiq and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa against Islamists such as Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi and the independent Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh.
While many Egyptians fear the Mubarak regime ties of Shafiq and Moussa, liberals and minority Christians worry that the Islamist candidates will seek to impose some form of Shariah law on Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation.
The Muslim Brotherhood dominated Egypt's parliamentary polls in late 2011 and early 2012, winning nearly half the seats in the legislature.
Presidential powers unclear
With 13 candidates in the running, it is viewed as unlikely that one of them will outright win the first round, raising the possibility of a run off on June 16-17. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has promised to turn over power to a civilian government by July 1st.
But with a new constitution not yet in place, the future president will assume office with ill-defined powers. In April, an Egyptian court ordered a 100-member panel - charged with drafting a new constitution - to be suspended pending a ruling on its legality.
The panel was comprised of 50 members of parliament - dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood - and 50 public figures appointed by parliament.
Liberal and Christian groups boycotted the panel, charging it was dominated by Islamists and unrepresentative of Egyptian society.
slk/mz (AP, AFP, Reuters)