Egyptian presidential election continues for second day
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a two-day runoff election next month.
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After six decades under authoritarian, military-backed rule, Egypt's 50 million voters can decide whether to entrust the most populous Arab nation to an Islamist president for the next four years, as well as the Islamist-led assembly they chose earlier.
Some voters voice disappointment with the performance of parliament, where the Muslim Brotherhood's party has the biggest bloc. The assembly has been unable to assert itself over the government appointed by the generals who took over from Mubarak.
Alarmed by rising crime, disorder and a failing economy, some Egyptians favour a man with government or military experience, even if he harks back to the Mubarak era.
Queues built up outside some polling stations in the baking sun, with many voters determined not to miss their chance to influence the first round. The government declared Thursday a public holiday to allow state employees to cast their vote.
If no one wins more than half the votes needed for outright victory, the top two will contest a run-off on June 16 and 17. First-round results may be clear by Saturday, but an official announcement is not due until Tuesday.
"I came yesterday and found it very crowded so I came today," said Khaled Abdou, a 25-year-old engineer voting in Cairo. "I must participate in choosing the president and I hope this leads to stability and the change needed."
Voting passed off calmly on Wednesday, apart from a stone-throwing attack on Shafiq, 70, a former air force chief.
Other leading candidates are the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi, 60, independent Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, 60, Moussa, 75, who also served as Mubarak's foreign minister in the 1990s, and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, 57.
According to election consultant Ossama Kamel, fewer abuses have occurred in this vote than in the parliamentary poll that ended in January, partly because of lessons learned then.
He predicted a last-minute rush to the polls on Thursday, with voting time extended, perhaps for several hours.
"We have seen a lot better control of campaigning on election day than during the parliamentary vote when there were lots of violations, with candidates and their supporters hustling people outside polling stations," he told Reuters.
The vote marks a crucial stage in a turbulent army-led transition racked by protests, violence and political disputes. The generals who took charge when Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11, 2011, have pledged to hand over to the new president by July 1.
Even then the army, whose grip reaches deep into government and the economy, is likely to wield influence for years to come. A tussle over who should write the constitution also means the new president will not know his own powers when he is elected.