High turnout in Egypt's first free presidential vote

High turnout in Egypt's first free presidential vote

Voters Wednesday turned out in large numbers in most parts of Egypt as the country held its first ever free presidential election, dpa reported.

Turnout was particularly high in the capital, Cairo, where long queues stretching outside the polling stations caused traffic congestion, state media and observers reported.

More voters showed up in the afternoon, when employees usually leave their workplaces.

Polls began closing at 9 pm (1900 GMT), after voting hours were extended by an hour on the first day of the poll, state television reported.

The National Council for Human Rights had earlier called for an extension of voting due to large crowds at polling stations.

Voters waiting at a school in central Cairo told dpa they had been standing in line for an hour and half already.

But all seemed in good humour and enthusiastic about the process.

"I'm going to vote for one of the liberal candidates," said Amr Rushdy, 48, a trader.

"These elections are a matter of life and death for the country. It depends on the right candidate being elected."

Standing behind him, engineer Tariq Adel, 47, was optimistic about the result.

"The ballot box will decide things. Whoever wins, it should not be a problem," he added.

At another polling station in the more working-class Zeinhom area in Cairo, the atmosphere was equally cheerful.

"I support Mohammed Morsi due to his Islamic frame of reference and because he has a clear project and a large organization behind him," said Ayman Mahdi, a lawyer, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate.

Hospital employee Samih al-Gundi, 47, interjected to say that he had voted for a left-wing candidate and wanted "a civil state with the rule of law. We're all Muslims anyway, we want Muslims and Christians to live together equally."

Despite the differences in opinion, there was no sense of tension.

Ahmed Mohammed, a teacher, said he was "entirely confident" the elections would be fair. "Whoever is elected, we'll accept him, even if he is from the far left."

Egypt's military rulers are expected to declare a temporary constitution outlining presidential powers before they hand over power to the elected president by the end of June. The step is necessary because a row among political powers and the Islamist-dominated parliament has hampered the creation of an assembly to write a new constitution.

But it means the new president will take power with the exact description of his duties still in flux.

Ali Abdel-Khaleq, a taxi driver, had already voted for the moderate Islamist contender Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh. He was less confident of the results.

"Some people are voting for Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa (two Mubarak-era officials) because they want to keep the class system as it is. If Moussa or Shafiq win, we'll know there was fraud," he added.

Recent opinion polls have shown Shafiq, a former air force commander, taking the lead in the presidential race, in which 12 others are also running.

"The turnout is enormous and more than expected," said Hatem Begatu, the secretary general of the electoral commission.

He said that all but three polling stations had opened as scheduled, at 8 am (0600 GMT).

The polling, monitored by local and foreign non-governmental groups, was going on smoothly, state television reported.

The electoral commission has reported three candidates to the chief prosecutor for alleged violations of a campaigning ban during voting, the commission's head Farouk Sultan told reporters in Cairo.

They three were the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi; independent Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh; and Shafiq.

Shafiq, speaking at a press conference in Cairo, said that if he became president, he would pay special attention to the young people who led the revolution against Mubarak.

"I promise to help them regain the revolution from those who have stolen it," said Shafiq. He denied being loyal to Mubarak, saying: "I did not work for a certain regime, I worked for Egypt."

Protesters threw stones and shoes at Shafiq after he cast his ballot on Wednesday, local media reported. They shouted "down with military rule" as they attacked the former air force commander.

Earlier on Wednesday, a policeman guarding a polling station in northern Cairo was killed in an exchange of fire with suspected criminals, reported the website of state television.

However, election officials denied the incident was linked to voting.

More than 50 million eligible voters - out of a population of around 80 million - were casting their ballots over the two-days of voting.

The more than 13,000 polling stations, spread across the country's 27 provinces, were to reopen Thursday at 8 am.

Around 300,000 military and security forces have been deployed across Egypt to secure that voting takes place safely.

Results are not expected until May 29.

If no candidate secures an outright majority in the first round, there will be a run-off between the top two candidates on June 16 and 17.

UAE government delegation heads to Israel for first official visit
UAE government delegation heads to Israel for first official visit
Qatar Airways expects to keep A380s parked for years
Qatar Airways expects to keep A380s parked for years
First commercial Etihad flight lands in Tel Aviv
First commercial Etihad flight lands in Tel Aviv
Loading Bars
Uzbekistan's GDP up for 9M2020
IMF releases forecast of Azerbaijan's oil sector for 2020-2021
Kazakhstan's Tengiz field using technologies to keep employees away from high-risk areas
UAE government delegation heads to Israel for first official visit
Weekly review of Georgian capital markets
Russian power engineering company completes assembly of third hydroelectric unit of Uzbek HPP
Syrian tribes condemn Armenia's alliance with YPG Kurds
IMF forecasts growth of Azerbaijan's gas exports in coming years
UK Export Finance has scope to support solar projects in Azerbaijan - Baroness Nicholson
Export of carpets from Turkey to Turkmenistan decreased
Tajikistan significantly reduces import of carpets from Turkey
Armenia must be seated at negotiating table as occupying country - Azerbaijani MP (VIDEO)
Kazakhstan's improved financial system shows value during COVID-related crisis, says IMF
Turkmen company produces large volume of protective masks per day
New airline company to start operations in Georgia
COVID-19 situation in Azerbaijan will depend on citizens' compliance with recommendations - WHO
I’ve been horrified to see news of deadly attacks on Ganja, Terter, Beylagan - Baroness Nicholson
Azerbaijani scientist talks endemics destroyed by Armenians in occupied lands
Chevron to transform Penjuru Terminal in Singapore to smart terminal
Uzbekneftegaz reveals worth of products production for 2020
Leguminous crop being harvested in Turkmenistan’s Dashoguz region
Chevron using technology to raise well performance
Chevron implementing public 5G at one of its facilities
Iran’s CBI unveils amount of currency sold to exchange offices
Armenian Armed Forces replenished with terrorists from various countries - Turkish expert
Iranian currency rates for October 20
Azerbaijani currency rates for Oct. 20
Azerbaijani Environmental Public Council, Environmental Civil Society Organizations appeal to int'l organizations on Armenian aggression
Latest achievements of Azerbaijani army over Armenian forces
Iran's parliamentarians seek transparency in revenues
Turkmenistan announces terms of temporary import of vehicles into country
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for October 20
Kyrgyzstan's 9M2020 import of carpets from Turkey shrinks
Update given on Armenian Armed Forces' equipment destroyed during hostilities
Refusing to fight, Armenian mercenaries desert en masse, Azerbaijani MoD says
Kazakhstan confirms 115 new COVID-19 cases
EU says had 'intense and constructive' meeting with UK on withdrawal pact
President Ilham Aliyev: Armenia demonstrated disrespect for mediators and its own commitments
President Ilham Aliyev: All the activities of Armenia's new leadership are aimed at disrupting the negotiations
U.S. and Brazil must reduce dependence on China imports, Pompeo says
Another armored vehicle of Armenian armed forces destroyed (VIDEO)
Argentina’s coronavirus case tally exceeds 1 mln
Israel reports 1,767 new COVID-19 cases, 304,876 in total
Intel nears deal to sell NAND unit to South Korea's SK Hynix
NASA mission to collect sample of asteroid Bennu
U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 220,000 -- Johns Hopkins University
UN Security Council discusses verification of Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire
Turkey reports 2,026 new COVID-19 cases, 349,519 in total
Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes off Alaska's Aleutians: USGS
New U.S. COVID-19 cases rise 13% last week to nearly 400,000
Trump: U.S. to remove Sudan from state terrorism sponsors list after payment to victims
Belgium says COVID-19 situation serious as infections reach new highs, bars close
OPEC+ countries agree to honor commitments in full scope
Military trophies captured by Azerbaijani army in Jabrail and Fuzuli direction (VIDEO)
President of Italy-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce sends letter to Azerbaijani President, First Lady
Azerbaijani, French FMs hold phone conversation
Azerbaijani FM holds phone coversation with President of International Turkic Academy
Our losses sadden me most of all, what pleases me most of all is unbreakable will of Azerbaijani people - President Aliyev
Soros groups played big role in organizing coup in Armenia and Pashinyan always took an anti-Russian position - President Aliyev
Armenia wants to turn Tartar into Stalingrad, into the second Aghdam, Fuzuli, says Azerbaijani president
Turkey is already de facto at the negotiating table, says Azerbaijani president
Vast majority of villages around Fuzuli are with us, says Azerbaijani president
Now we see Fuzuli in front of us, says Azerbaijani president
After this ceasefire, Armenia tried to occupy settlement of Hadrut again and attacked it three times - President Aliyev
184 countries and economies have joined COVAX: WHO chief
Not single issue in region can be resolved without participation and consent of Turkey, says Azerbaijani president
We receive only moral and political support from Turkey, Pakistan and other fraternal countries - President Aliyev
There are people with Canadian and Lebanese passports among those who were killed on Armenian side, says Azerbaijani president
Armenian military equipment worth $1 billion destroyed with help of Turkish drones alone - President Aliyev
I have always tried to be true to my father's path, says Azerbaijani president
Liberation of Shusha occupies a special place among our goals - President Aliyev
Vast majority of villages around Fuzuli are with us - President Aliyev
Weapons are being smuggled to Armenia across Georgian and Russian territories, says Azerbaijani president
Armenia needed ceasefire in order to gather strength, take mobilization measures and launch new attacks on us, says Azerbaijani president
Dastardly attacks on civilians yet another manifestation of Armenian fascism - President Aliyev
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale October 20
Iran ready to provide details of January plane crash to Ukraine
UK records another 18,804 new coronavirus cases with 80 deaths
Azerbaijan fully ensures safety of oil and gas projects of international importance
Azerbaijan to send note to German Foreign Ministry due to Bundestag members's visit to Karabakh
Launch of industry, mining projects to open new job spots in Iran
Armenian PM admits defeat and ready for talks with Azerbaijan on Karabakh
Appeal to be sent to relevant structures due to Armenia’s attacks on civilian population of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan created conditions for Armenian war prisoners to contact their families
Colliers International: apartment buy/sell deals increasein Tbilisi
Georgia's Batumi sees decrease in real estate transactions
Turkish Trade Ministry says carpet exports to Russia rise
Supplies of Turkish carpets to Italy on decline
Azerbaijani armed forces adequately respond to Armenian side’s provocations
Update given on civilian casualties from Armenian shelling of Azerbaijan's Aghdam
Council of Europe Development Bank talks about projects implemented in Georgia
Dutch manufacturer of equipment for poultry farming eyes to enter Uzbek market
China's exports of flat-rolled products of non-alloy steel to Georgia down
Tesla to export China-made Model 3 vehicles to Europe
Demand for Turkish-made carpets in Kazakhstan up
Kazakhstan to reduce flights on int'l routes to battle COVID-19 spreading
Armenian armed forces shelling Azerbaijani settlements
Turkey records contraction in carpet export to Iran
IMF says economy of oil-exporting countries in Caucasus, Central Asia to decline
Export of Turkmen fabrics from synthetic complex yarns to EAEU increased
All news