Historic Day in Egypt: Freest Vote Since 1952
Egyptians lined up to vote in the freest election since 1952 when the monarchy was ousted. Soldiers stood guard outside polling stations to ensure safety (pictured).
“This is a historic day for Egypt,” Deputy Prime Minister Yahya al-Gamal told reporters after casting his vote in Cairo. “I had never seen such large numbers of voters in Egypt. Finally, the people of Egypt have come to realize that their vote counts.”
Voters were asked to choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the whole package of nine changes, which would open elections to independent candidates, impose presidential term limits and curtail 30-year-old emergency laws that give police near-unlimited powers. Preliminary results will be announced Sunday.
A “yes” vote would allow parliamentary and presidential elections to be held later this year or early in the next, a timeframe that critics say is too soon for the dozens of political groups born out of the 18-day anti-Mubarak uprising to organize themselves and be able to effectively compete in elections.
The more progressive factions believe more time is needed for newer parties to establish themselves. But that battle is just the beginning of the burgeoning democratic process.
Lack of faith in the process, along with violence and intimidation, have kept most voters away from past elections. But Egyptians — buoyed by the mass protests that led to Mubarak’s Feb. 11 ouster — have found a new trust in the system.
“My vote today will make a difference. It’s as simple as that,” first-time voter Hossam Bishay, 48, said as he waited in line with about 300 others outside a heavily guarded polling center in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district.Click here for reuse options!
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