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Heavy turnout as Egyptians go to the polls

November 28, 2011 |  9:15 am

 
REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- Egyptians turned out in large numbers Monday in a historic vote to move beyond the legacy of Hosni Mubarak, even as the nation’s military rulers have defied days of violent protests by refusing to step aside.

The first round of voting for a new parliament was testament to the spirit of the uprising that brought down the former president in February. It was also a sign of how far the nation still is from realizing the promises of a revolution that called for democracy to replace a police state.

Despite  long lines and delays at many polling stations, Egyptians were not deterred. Some were at once joyous and perplexed by all the candidates and choices before them. For decades many of them had ignored elections that were rigged by Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. 

“I’m here because I want a future for my children,” said Hanan Milad as soldiers guarded a polling station at the edge of a cement factory along the Nile. “The revolution inspired us. You can see people are poor here. We don’t know a lot about politics, but we have hope.”

A bit farther north on the Nile, Ahmed Amin, an engineer, waited to vote outside a school: “It’s a national duty that we vote today,” he said. “Our votes didn’t matter before. But we have to be here now. I will vote for the Islamists because they fear God and will choose the right people to reform Egypt.”

The first round of elections, which include races for a share of parliament’s 498 seats, continues Tuesday. Second and third rounds will be held in December and January. About 50 million people are eligible to vote in all three phases. But a full democratic government won’t be in place until the military steps down after a president is elected by the end of June.

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-- Jeffrey Fleishman


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