Vote counting gets underway in Egypt

Vote counting was underway in Egypt after two days of polling ended Thursday in a landmark presidential election which pitted stability against the ideals of the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's rule.

Just hours after polling stations closed at 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), the powerful Muslim Brotherhood -- using their formidable nationwide network to tally votes -- predicted a win for their candidate, Mohammed Mursi.

"I am confident that as first indications show, our candidate is leading," Essam al-Erian, vice chairman of the Islamist group's Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters, based on results from 236 out of 13,000 polling stations.

After decades of pre-determined results, for the first time the outcome of the vote in the Arab world's most populous nation was wide open, and may well force a second round runoff vote between the two frontrunners next month.

"Before the revolution, I never voted, because it was not useful. Since then, I have voted in every election because it's my right and my duty," said Ahmed Badreddine, 37, at a polling station in Cairo's Giza neighbourhood.

Turnout appeared to vary widely across the country, with long queues outside some polling stations and scant participation in others.

The official body supervising the election estimated that around 50 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballot.

Around 50 million voters were called to choose from 12 candidates, with the opinion poll frontrunners divided between Islamists, who say they will champion the uprising's goals, and Mubarak-era ministers.

Among the contenders is former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Mussa, seen as an experienced politician and diplomat. But like Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, he is accused of ties with the old regime.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mursi, faces competition from Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a former member of the Islamist movement who portrays himself as a consensus choice.

Pollsters said the large number of undecided voters made the result of the first round of polling extremely difficult to predict. with a second round vote a distinct possibility.

At a school in the upmarket Cairo neighbourhood of Heliopolis, with the dome of Mubarak's former presidential palace visible a few hundred metres (yards) away, hundreds of women braved the heat to queue to vote.

Noha Hamdy, 27, said it was a pleasant novelty to be voting in an election where the outcome is not predetermined.

"We go to an election not knowing who will win. I never voted before because the winner was always known in advance," she said. "This time I feel who I vote for, even if he doesn't win, will make a difference."

The next president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the uprising and its sometimes deadly aftermath, but his powers are yet to be defined by a new constitution.

"The big challenge for the president will be to attract foreign investors and boost tourism," to "restore the balance of payments" and "restore the reserve" currency in the central bank, which has dropped by half in the past year, Mahmoud Abdel Fadil, a Cairo University economics professor, told AFP.

To do that, the new president will have to "re-establish political stability and assure a level of total security. Confidence must be restored," he added.

The election seals a tumultuous military-led transition from autocratic rule marked by political upheaval and bloodshed, but which also witnessed democratic parliamentary elections that saw Islamist groups score a crushing victory.

Ballot boxes from Wednesday's first day of voting were kept overnight in polling stations after being sealed with wax by electoral commission officials and left under military and police protection.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since Mubarak's ouster, has vowed to restore civilian rule by the end of June, after a new president is in place, but many fear its withdrawal from politics will be just an illusion.

The army, with its vast and opaque economic power, wants to keep its budget a secret by remaining exempt from parliamentary scrutiny, maintain control of military-related legislation and secure immunity from prosecution.

Mubarak, 84 and ailing, is being held in a military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo where he awaits the verdict of his murder trial on June 2.

The former strongman, ousted in a popular uprising last year, is accused of involvement in the killing of some 850 protesters during the uprising and of corruption.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • PSEi breaches 8,000 level, but profit-taking pared most gains

    [caption id="attachment_257092" align="alignleft" width="150"] PSEi breaches 8,000 mark (PSE photo)[/caption] Local share prices surged on a slew of positive news from abroad, sending the Philippine Stock Exchange index past the 8,000 mark for the first time in history. BDO Unibank chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said the market rose due to “positive foreign equity portfolio flows and Fed Chair Yellen’s comments last week reiterating thethat the FOMC will be data dependent and …

  • Abandoned, hard-up husband hits P60-M Lotto pot

    Lady luck finally smiled on a hard-up tricycle driver, who endured being abandoned by his wife and seeing his children drop out of school before hitting the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 6/45 Lotto jackpot worth nearly P60 million. PCSO acting chairman Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II said the 29-year old lucky bettor hit the jackpot in the March 20 draw by correctly picking the winning numbers 02-03-14-22-29-30, which corresponds to the birth anniversary dates of his family members. …

  • News In Brief

    P/$ RATE CLOSES AT P44.80/$1The peso exchange rate closed  lower  at P44.80  to the US dollar yesterday at the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx) from P44.76  last  Friday.  The weighted average rate  unchanged  to  P44.796  from  P44.796.  Total volume amounted to $340.6 million.PUMP PRICES RAISED THIS WEEKThe pump prices of gasoline products will be raised by P1.10 per liter this week and diesel by P0.60 per liter, according to the oil companies. In an advisory to the media, the oil …

  • Need for modern national sports complex underscored

    Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara yesterday pushed for the construction of a “state-of-the-art” and “highly scientific sports complex” that can be used by the country’s national athletes for high-level training and total wellness program. Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, said the government should at least provide decent support to its athletes by providing them with ultramodern sports venues and facilities if it wants them to improve the country’s …

  • Makati mayor slams PNP’s role in mayoralty row

    Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay denounced what he called apparent “misuse” of the Philippine National Police (PNP) force in the implementation of “selective suspension” of government officials not allied with the ruling party. Binay said he sympathizes with PNP personnel who often got caught in the middle of political conflicts, and called for an end to dirty political tactics. [caption id="attachment_257243" align="aligncenter" width="648"] THANKSGIVING MEAL – Vice President Jejomar C. …

  • EVAP warns of unscrupulous foreign electric vehicle suppliers

    The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines  (EVAP) has cautioned local manufacturers and end users against unscrupulous foreign EV suppliers that are flocking into the domestic market. In a sunrise industry like the electric vehicle industry, EVAP stressed that choosing the right partner or supplier is a difficult task. “In the absence of any track record to review, an end user is at a loss as to how to choose a reliable and competent supplier,” said Atty. Bodie Pulido, EVAP …

  • Mayors laud bill increasing tax revenue allocation for LGUs

    The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) is backing the proposed increase in the annual automatic allocations for local government units (LGUs) to boost inclusive growth with improved infrastructure, modernized agriculture and easier access to resources. Mayor Jess Burahan, secretary-general of the LMP said the empowerment of LGUs through added resources is a game changer in boosting inclusive growth. …

  • Freeze order against Jinggoy assets final; Bong guards face raps

    The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has turned down with finality the plea of Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada to lift the freeze order on his properties amounting to more than P183 million. In a resolution released yesterday, the Fifth Division denied Estrada’s motion for reconsideration that sought that the court lift its writ of preliminary attachment/garnishment that was issued on February 17 that ordered the freeze of his properties. “As movant has not filed a counterbond and his arguments …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options