By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
As the United States, Europe, Israel, and even Saudi Arabia, wait anxiously for the result, Egyptians went to vote for the first time in the history in festive and relaxed mood to chose their President on Wednesday. Voting had to be extended by one hour as the turnout, unlike in the past one-party elections, was heavy. Election would take place on Thursday too.
Everything passed off peacefully, which in itself is an achievement in the country, which only last year witnessed a bloody revolution. This reflected the maturity of the people cutting across religion, view and ideology lines.
Unlike in the past Egyptians rubbed shoulders with presidential hopefuls who queued up with them to vote. The only untoward incident occurred late in the evening when one of the candidates, Ahmed Shafiq (70), who was Hosni 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. He was not hurt.
In another polling station in Cairo, 75-year-old Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and Arab League secretary-general, stood in line with everyone else.
There was general excitement all over the country, be it in Alexandria in north or Port Said in the east. A mini-bus driver in Alexandria was so elated that he did not charge voters heading to the polls.
Since Egyptian Parliament is dominated by Muslim Brotherhood, it is expected that its candidate Mohamed Mursi may perform well even though no opinion poll has been conducted. The problem with the secular and Christian votes is that they are getting more divided than Islamists. Apart from that they are those who have lost their credibility.
The military council in charge of a political transition since Feb 11, 2011 revolution, 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.
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.
The United States, Europe and Israel appeared worried as they are suspicious of Islamists. Israel, in particular, is fearful about the fate of its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and the boost the Muslim Brotherhood could give to its Palestinian offshoot Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is already getting support from Iran.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia and tiny Gulf stooges of the United States are concerned over the developments in Egypt as they always supported Hosni Mubarak. Recently, Saudi Arabia even withdrew its ambassador from Cairo over a minor issue