Egyptians go to the polls for first round of post-Mubarak elections
Haaretz reports from Cairo / Islamist parties expected to make big wins in three-round elections; new parliament to be tasked with drafting new constitution before presidential election by end of June.
Polling stations opened Monday in nine of 27 districts for the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, the first since former president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in February.
About 17.5 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the first round that runs for two days, according to government figures.
Voting did not get off to a completely smooth start on Monday morning, with complaints of delays in the opening of voting, despite the fact that Interior Ministry teams were in place to ensure that voting went smoothly.
According to reports, nearly half of Egypt's polling stations opened late, or had still not opened to the public by mid-morning. It was not clear what caused the delay.
Long lines formed at the polling stations that did open, with some Egyptians getting ready to vote for the first time in their lives. At a polling station in a local school in Cairo’s Zamalek neighborhood, 500 people were standing in line.
“I am voting in the name of liberty, until today we lived in slavery. Now we want justice and freedom,” one 50-year old voter told the Associated Press.
“We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, but we lived under Mubarak’s rule for 30 years, we will also survive with them,” she added.
Later on Monday, supporters of a disqualified parliamentary hopeful attacked a polling station in the southern Egyptian governorate of Assiut, state television reported. The candidate was excluded from the election for having failed to undertake military service, according to the broadcaster.
The number of seats up for grabs in the first round is 168, contested by 3,809 candidates.
Polling stations are scheduled to close at 7 P.M. (1700 GMT).
Islamist parties, which had all been officially licensed after Mubarak's ouster, are expected to make big wins in the three-round elections that run through until January 10.
The new parliament will be tasked with setting up a committee to draft a new constitution before the presidential election by the end of June.
Egypt's military rulers and Islamists both called Sunday on Egyptians to go to the polls for the country's first election since former president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow, as thousands of protesters gathered in central Cairo for one more rally against the junta.
The head of the ruling military council, Hussein Tantawi, pledged that parliamentary elections, scheduled for Monday, would not be postponed and would be taking place amid "maximum security."
He also warned that the army would not allow "any tampering'" with the elections.
Tantawi agreed at a meeting with key politicians on Sunday to create a civilian council to advise the military during a transitional period that he pledged to end by July.