Competing destinies: Egyptians ready to make history

 

The election is the final phase of a tumultuous transition overseen by the ruling military council after a popular uprising ousted long-time president Hosni Mubarak last year.

On Tuesday, ballot boxes were being distributed to the 13 000 polling stations around the country, which were set to open at 8am (6am GMT) on Wednesday. Voting will take place over two days.

After decades of pre-determined results, for the first time, the outcome of the vote in the Arab world’s most populous nation – which also pits revolutionaries against old regime members – is wide open.

The next president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the uprising and its sometimes deadly aftermath but his powers are yet to be defined by a new Constitution.

Among the contenders is former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who is seen as an experienced politician and diplomat but like Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, is accused of belonging to the old regime.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi faces competition from Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a former member of the Islamist movement who portrays himself as a consensus choice with a wide range of support.

Political upheaval
The election caps a rollercoaster transition, marked by political upheaval and bloodshed but which also witnessed democratic parliamentary elections that saw Islamist groups score a crushing victory.

Candidates have been campaigning across the country for weeks in an unprecedented democratic exercise made possible by the early 2011 revolt.

A ban on campaign-related activities, laid down by the Supreme Presidential Election Commission for 48 hours before the vote, did little to dim excitement in the capital, as an army vehicle rumbled through Tahrir Square – the epicentre of protests that toppled Mubarak – urging Egyptians to vote.

“Rise, Egyptian; Egypt is calling you,” the soldier shouted through a loudspeaker, borrowing the lyrics from a popular nationalist song by iconic composer Sayyed Darwish.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), in power since Mubarak’s ouster, repeated its earlier calls for Egyptians to turn out en masse to the polls, while warning against any “violation”.

Violations
“The participation of citizens in the presidential election is the best guarantee of the transparency and security of the electoral process,” Mohammed al-Assar, a member of the Scaf, was quoted as saying by state news agency MENA.

“We will not allow any violation or [attempt] to influence the electoral process or the voters,” he added, saying that any person who broke the law would be treated “firmly and decisively”.

The Scaf has vowed to hand power to civilian rule by the end of June, after a president is elected, but many fear its retreat will be just an illusion.

The army, with its vast and opaque economic power, wants to keep its budget a secret by remaining exempt from parliamentary scrutiny, maintain control of military-related legislation and secure immunity from prosecution.

Mubarak, 84 and ailing, may watch the election from a military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo as he awaits the verdict of his murder trial on June 2.

The former strongman is accused of involvement in the killing of some 850 protesters during the uprising and of corruption.

According to pollsters, the large number of voters undecided between candidates reflecting radically different trends and the novelty of a free presidential vote make Wednesday’s election almost impossible to call. – AFP

Advertisting

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Chaos theory: How Jürgen Klopp has harnessed the unpredictable

The Liverpool manager has his side playing unstoppable football but it’s the attention to detail off the field that has bred the success

Miners speak out against Sibanye

Not a year into buying Lonmin, Sibanye is accused of mistreating the mineworkers who were injured eight years ago during the Marikana massacre. But the platinum giant says it is a miscommunication. Athandiwe Saba and Paul Botes visit Marikana to find out the truth
Advertising

Press Releases

Wellcome Trust award goes to UKZN mental health champion

Dr Andr? J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN's Centre for Rural Health, received the Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

MTN gears up to deliver improved customer service

On 28 January, the first batch of MTN contract customers will be migrated onto the new customer service platform.

Request for expression of interest on analysis of quality and outcome indicators for regional and district hospitals in Lesotho

Introduction The Ministry of Health of Lesotho with the support of the World Bank funded Nutrition and Health Systems Strengthening...

MiX Telematics enhances in-vehicle video camera solution

The company has launched the gold MiX Vision Bureau Service, which includes driver-coaching tools to ensure risky driver behaviour can be addressed proactively and efficiently.

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA