གཟའ་པ་སངས། ༢༠༢༣/༠༡/༢༧

Egyptians Vote in First Free Presidential Election

Egyptians line up early for historic election in Cairo, May 23 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)

Nearly a year and a half after the ouster of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, millions of Egyptians lined up for hours outside polling stations on May 23, 2012 to freely choose a president for the first time in an election.

The two-day vote will bring down the final curtain on decades of authoritarian rule, although concerns remained that the nation's military rulers who took over after Mubarak would try to retain influence.

Egyptians were hopeful as they waited patiently for their chance to cast a ballot in an unprecedentedly open race, with some 50 million eligible voters.

Opinion polls show four front runners. They include two Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and independent Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, and two members of the old guard - veteran diplomat Amr Moussa and former Air Force commander Ahmed Shafik. Another candidate, socialist Hamdeen Sabahi has also been emerging in recent polls.

For most of his 29-year rule, Mubarak — like his predecessors — ran unopposed in yes-or-no referendums. The generals who assumed control after the revolution have promised to hand over power by July 1, ending a turbulent transition period defined by deadly street clashes, a faltering economy, a surge of crime and human rights abuses.