Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (local time) across Egypt for the first time since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled for nearly three decades. About 50 million eligible voters in 27 provinces at 14,000 polling stations will select one from 13 presidential candidates.
Top candidates include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Freedom and Justice Party chairman Mohamed Morsi and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.
If no candidate gets an absolute majority, as is expected, the top two candidates would compete in a runoff on June 16 and 17 and will take office before 1 July. Voting will last two days and will end on 24 May. Preliminary election results will be announced at a press conference next Monday. Final election results will be announced on 21 June. The transfer of power to elected civilian authorities is expected to be held no later than 30 June.
During the Egyptian presidential campaign Israel became a popular target of criticism, as candidates played on popular antipathy in Egypt toward its neighbour. One Islamist candidate often referred to Israel as the “Zionist entity” and the “enemy” and a leftist candidate pledged to support the Palestinian resistance against Israel. “Of course Israel is an enemy. It occupied land, it threatened our security. It is an entity that has 200 nuclear warheads,” Islamist candidate Aboul Fotouh said in a TV debate when asked about Israel. Seeking to embarrass his main opponent, Abol Fotouh pressed former Arab League chief Amr Moussa on whether he too classed Israel an enemy. Moussa chose the term “adversary.”
None of the candidates have said they want to revoke the peace treaty with Israel, but they have repeatedly warned in rallies and debates that it ought to be reviewed.