Egypt - With Mubarak Gone, Egyptians Vote Freely

Egyptians relished their first free leadership vote on Wednesday, with Islamists pitted against secular figures in a contest unthinkable before a popular revolt swept President Hosni Mubarak from power 15 months ago.
Voting passed off calmly for the most part, but candidate Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, came under attack from protesters who threw stones and shoes at his convoy as he voted at a Cairo polling station late in the day.

Shafiq, 70, was not hurt in the melee, witnesses said.
With no reliable opinion polls, no one knows who will win the presidency, but Egyptians enjoyed the uncertainty after the routinely rigged votes of Mubarak's 30 years in power.
"We must prove that the times when we stayed at home and someone would choose for us are over," said Islam Mohamed, a 27-year-old swimming coach, waiting at a Cairo polling station.
The election is a momentous sequel to Mubarak's overthrow on February 11, 2011. The military council in charge of a messy and often bloody political transition since then has overseen a constitutional referendum, parliamentary polls and now a vote for a president to whom it has promised to hand power by July 1.
The revolutionaries of Tahrir Square may be reluctant to trust Egypt's future to Islamists or Mubarak-era politicians, but those candidates may appeal to many of the 50 million eligible voters who yearn for Islamic-tinged reform or who want a firm and experienced hand to restore stability and security.
Unless one candidate gets more than half the votes needed to win outright, a run-off between the top two will take place on June 16 and 17. First-round results will be formally announced on Tuesday, but the outcome could be clear by Saturday.
Independent monitors said they saw no major abuses. Voters complained of some illegal campaigning outside polling stations.
Whoever wins faces a huge task to relieve a dire economic outlook and will also have to deal with a military establishment keen to preserve its privileges and political influence.
The relative powers of the president, government, parliament, judiciary and military have yet to be defined as a tussle over who should write a new constitution rumbles on.

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