Egyptians begin two-day vote for new president

Thousands of soldiers and policemen patrolled the streets of Cairo to ensure a peaceful two-day vote ten months after the military ousted the country's first elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
Many view the vote as a referendum on stability versus the freedoms promised by the Arab Spring-inspired popular uprising that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Mahmoud Khaled/AFP Photo
Many view the vote as a referendum on stability versus the freedoms promised by the Arab Spring-inspired popular uprising that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Mahmoud Khaled/AFP Photo

CAIRO // Egyptians began voting on Monday in the country’s second presidential election since the 2011 uprising amid high expectations of a landslide victory by former military commander, Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Thousands of soldiers and policemen patrolled the streets of Cairo to ensure a peaceful two-day vote that comes ten months after the military ousted Mohammed Morsi, the first president elected after Hosni Mubarak’s downfall.

Mr El Sisi, who orchestrated Morsi’s overthrow when he was the head of the armed forces, would be boosted by a high turnout. The 59-year-old is expected to trounce his only rival in the election, Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist who joined nationwide rallies last summer that culminated in the military takeover on July 3.

The election takes place amid attacks against security forces by Islamist militants and as the government continues to crackdown on the former president’s Muslim Brotherhood organisation and liberal activists.

A television report of a bomb outside a polling station in the city of El Mahalla El Kubra was quickly quashed by the interior ministry, which blamed the incident on a vehicle backfiring in the area.

Otherwise, Monday’s early-morning voting appeared tranquil.

Voters in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek area, a stronghold for Mr El Sisi, praised the ex-army chief’s military credentials and denounced the Muslim Brotherhood, which was designated the a terrorist organisation in December.

“He saved Egypt!” shouted Eifat Olama, who said she was older than 70. “All of Egypt is with him!”

Others were not as supportive. Farahat Tamer, 31, expressed serious reservations about Morsi’s removal from power.

“He was supposed to have four years and we should have waited four years and then, if we didn’t like him, we could have voted for someone else,” said Mr Tamer.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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