As it happened: Egypt presidential election

Key points

  • Egyptians are voting in the first free presidential election in their country's history, 15 months after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted.
  • BBC correspondents say the atmosphere has been calm but election monitors have reported a few irregularities.
  • Polling times extended by one hour until 21:00 (19:00 GMT).
  • Thirteen candidates including Islamists, leftists and former government ministers.
  • Counting due to finish on Saturday with results expected on 29 May.
  • A run-off will be held on 16 and 17 June if no-one wins 50% of the vote.

    Welcome to the BBC's live page for the first day of voting in Egypt's historic presidential elections. Polls opened at 08:00 (0600 GMT), and long queues have already been reported in many areas. Come back to this page for live updates throughout the day.


    Fifteen months after the uprising which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are voting over the next two days to elect a new leader - the first time they have freely done so in the country's history. Thirteen people are on the ballot paper - the four men generally regarded as the front-runners are all either Islamists or former ministers under Mr Mubarak.


    The secular activists who led the uprising have not produced a candidate charismatic or organised enough to grab the imagination of the Egyptian people.

    Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor

    Egypt - and its next president - face huge challenges. He will have to find a way to make people feel safe again. Egypt needs a reformed police service to deal with the rash of crime that followed the collapse of the old regime's brutal and corrupt force. The economy cannot satisfy the needs of a growing and young population. And there's a potential clash waiting to happen with the army, which seems determined to retain its position as the power behind the president's chair.

    Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor

    The electorate does not know what powers the new president will have to do his job, as they are still waiting for them to be spelled out in a new constitution. But on the streets of Cairo the most common demand is for a leader who can end the chaos, confusion and uncertainty that have affected Egypt since Mr Mubarak was ousted last February.

    Columnist Mona Eltahawy

    tweets: Dear Egypt: I miss you; I'll be back Thursday for 2nd day of vote. Fellow Egyptians: whether voting or not, good luck today. #EgyPresElection

    Sarah Elmeshad

    tweets: #EgyPresElection it's like eid morning here after a 60 year fast

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Cairo

    Rosalind Carter, the wife of former US President Jimmy Carter, came out of polling station in the capital and told me: "I don't see any problems. The sun is rising in Egypt." I asked her how it compared to the many other elections she had seen around the world. She replied: "It's a good day... Egyptians are just happy to be voting."

    Rosalind Carter in Cairo

    There are reports that judges arrived late at some polling stations to oversee the voting, and that some of the candidate's representatives were refused entry to polling stations because they did not have the required paperwork from the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC).


    According to our profiles of the 13 candidates for the presidency, the front-runners are: Ahmed Shafiq, a former commander of the air force and briefly prime minister during and after the uprising; Amr Moussa, who has served as foreign minister and head of the Arab League; Mohammed Mursi, who heads the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP); and Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist.

    Kevin Connolly BBC Middle East correspondent, Cairo

    Supporter of former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa says his links to past regime do not matter. "Egypt needs experience and competence," she says.

    Sara Hussein AFP news agency reporter

    tweets : Spent first hour of ‪#egypreselex‬ at Nasser school in Dokki. Smooth sailing. Now at nearby Shayma, tempers fraying in long line in hot sun


    Mohammed Fawzi Issa, one of the less prominent candidates, announced last week that he was backing Amr Moussa. Mr Issa could not withdraw officially because his decision came after a deadline set by the election commission.


    Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh has voted at a polling station in the Cairo suburb of Nasser City. Al-Hayat TV reports that "frowning and looking stern", he told journalists that the "Egyptian people will choose a servant to serve them today" and that "the era of Pharaohs" had ended, referring to a nickname for Hosni Mubarak. "Our programme is a strong Egypt in which Egypt becomes a strong nation and a nation for all Egyptians," he added.

    Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh
    Kevin Connolly BBC Middle East correspondent, Cairo

    In Nasser City, an army helicopter circles twice over the polling station. A reminder the military is watching this process closely. The interesting question: how will the generals react to the result?

    Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor
    Voting queues. Photo: Jeremy Bowen

    tweets: Women waiting to vote in Agouza Cairo #EgyPresElection


    Meanwhile, the head of the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC), Farouq Sultan, has said the result of the election's first round will be announced on 29 May. A run-off will be held on 16 and 17 June if no-one wins 50% of the vote.


    Presidential candidate Amr Moussa is having to queue to vote at Fado Anan school in Nasser City, according to BBC Arabic. He does not look too impressed in this picture. One of his aides reportedly told other voters: "Please do not crush him."

    Amr Moussa queues to vote in Cairo

    The BBC World Service's World Today programme spoke to people in Cairo before the polls opened and asked them what kind of president they were looking for. One man said: "The main thing that I choose a president for is whether he is on the side of the revolution or not." Another said: "Reform. We have nine million government employees. We need someone who is going to be able to work on these people. These are bureaucratic people; most of them are still corrupt. They are a big part of the old regime. We need someone to reform these people."

    Karim Fayez

    tweets: Remember who brought that day to us. Pray for them and remind those around u. #EgyPresElection


    The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which assumed presidential powers after Hosni Mubarak stepped down, has sought to reassure Egyptians that it will be the voters themselves who decide who will be the next president. "It is important that we all accept the election results, which will reflect the free choice of the Egyptian people, bearing in mind that Egypt's democratic process is taking its first step and we all must contribute to its success," it said on Monday.

    Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor

    tweets: I asked one woman in the queue to vote how long she'd been waiting. 30 years she said with a big laugh #EgyPresElection

    Wyre Davies BBC Middle East correspondent, Alexandria

    Egypt's second city is very different from Cairo, but people here are equally excited about the country's first free and fair presidential elections. Campaigning here has been fierce and open - there is a general sense of real political freedom here.

    Wyre Davies BBC Middle East correspondent, Alexandria

    But amid talk of who might win, there are arguable more pressing concerns in Alexandria that betrays the signs of decades of neglect. In the city's slums, the election is not really about religious dogma or party politics - it is about who can put food on their tables and a roof over their heads. Democracy alone will not bring people out of poverty.


    Omnia al-Desoukie, an Egyptian journalist, tells the BBC: "It's great to see Egyptians queuing patiently to vote. There are 70-year-old couples holding hands, going inside to cast their ballots."

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: Genuine sense among #Egyptians that today their ancient civilization has something new to be very proud about


    Human rights groups report that several polling stations opened late due to the delayed arrival of judges in several provinces, including Qana and Wadi al-Jadid.


    Mohammed Mursi's campaign says it has observed "some immoral activities" by the supporters of other candidates, such as putting up posters with their names on in some areas, BBC Arabic reports. Campaigning was officially meant to end on Sunday.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: Lady in niqab in polling queue tells me: 'Today I've been waiting to vote for 1 hour but before I've been waiting my whole life' #Egypt


    Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian author who protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square during the uprising, tells the BBC World Service that the election will not mean the end of the country's problems. "The situation in which these elections are being held is absolutely not ideal, and we need to see the election of the president today and tomorrow as simply one more step in a long process that we're going through rather than the culmination," she says.


    Ahdaf Soueif adds: "There's a constitutional gap, we don't even have agreement on the committee that's going to write the constitution. And there are very big issues that need to be resolved; perhaps the most important of them is the position of the military forces in the country and that is a key thing."

    Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor, Cairo

    In the capital's working class Bashtil area, men are voting in an optimistic mood. They want a strong leader to end the chaos and uncertainty. A Coptic Christian priest waiting to vote says Egypt needs a leader to "take it out of the darkness".


    BBC Arabic's reporter in Port Said, Ahmed El Sheikh, says the turnout in the city is good, and confirms that some polling stations opened 45 minutes late.


    Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), and Gen Sami Anan, the army's chief-of-staff, are following the election from an operations room in Cairo after visiting several polling stations, officials say.

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: I made an old man cry asking how he felt about #egyelections. "I feel it's back to being Egypt," he said.


    Al-Nahar TV is reporting that the families of protesters killed during the uprising have been holding up pictures of them at the polling stations in Cairo where Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq voted, according to BBC Monitoring. Both candidates served under Hosni Mubarak.


    Mr Moussa told reporters outside the polling station: "My message to the Egyptians in Cairo is that this is a great day, a big day, and a decisive day and I hope they will select correctly. They will elect the president who can really lead Egypt in this crisis time."

    Salah Mustafa in Cairo

    This is a graceful moment in the history of Egypt. The results of these elections will change the face of Egypt and the Arab World forever (hopefully in a positive way). The stakes are so high in a very rare historic junction when everything seems uncertain. People here are optimistic, hopeful and are really enjoying the moment.

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: 150 men waiting in sun at polling station in Sheikh Zayed. Women jump queue! Woman judge says all in order here #egyelections


    US Congressman David Dreier is an official election observer. He says he is inspired by what the Egyptian people are doing. "This is the first time in 7,000 years that the people of Egypt have been able to play a role in determining their future, choosing their president and it's a very exciting thing for those of us from the west to observe," he adds. "Obviously, there are difficult days ahead, challenging days ahead, but to see people who are here finally playing a role and making this determination is an inspiration."


    Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister in the last days of Hosni Mubarak's rule, is holding a news conference at his campaign headquarters before heading off to vote. Mr Shafiq says he will respect the outcome of the election no matter what it is. BBC Arabic's Dina Demrdash says he is considered one of the most controversial of the front-runners, as he faces accusations of corruption during the Mubarak era, when he was also chief of the air force.

    Kevin Connolly BBC Middle East correspondent, Cairo

    In the queue at a polling station in Nasser City, a young woman in flowing black robes and face-veil rejects the idea that Islamist parties have not achieved much with the parliamentary majority they won earlier this year. "We need an Islamist president to complete the job," she tells me.

    Sara Khorshid Egyptian journalist

    blogs: The mere existence of an elected parliament and the carrying out of presidential elections are no indication that the country is on a solid track of democratization.


    BBC Arabic says the Egyptian Coalition for Election Observation has presented a report to Higher Presidential Elections Commission concerning violations and abuses which it claims have marred the electoral process. The group calls on the HPEC to undertake all the necessary legal measures in order to prevent such violations.

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Cairo

    Mohammed Kamel of the 6 April Youth Movement acknowledges that there have been irregularities, including polling stations opening late and candidates still campaigning, but says it is still "the happiest day for us".

    Raouf Aly Hafez in Heliopolis, Cairo

    This is my first vote for a president in all my 68 years... I was at the polling station from the wee hours of the morning and I have never witnessed so many women voters along with the men. I pray that this is a good omen... Whoever wins I wish him all the best as we should all rally together for the good of this country.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: Casting an eye over the 12 potential new #Egyptian Presidents none embodies the ambitions of the youngsters who led last years revolution


    Police and army officers in one part of the capital, Cairo, have set fire to a number of election leaflets that one candidate's supporters were distributing in shops next to a school being used as a polling station, BBC Arabic reports.

    Nagui Camel-Toueg in Cairo

    I just came out of the Anan School polling station in New Cairo. People seemed to be cheerful and excited. Presidential candidate Amr Moussa was behind me in line waiting patiently. Everyone seemed to be anxious to work together to make the process a fast one.


    Google is celebrating the election with a doodle on its Egypt homepage.

    Google Egypt homepage doodle

    Zakaria Mohyeidin, one of those who took part in the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, tells the BBC World Service that the election is "one more step at least in the right direction", but adds: "My issue with this presidential election is number one: the candidates themselves. Number two: the fact that the constitution is still not completed so the president really doesn't know what his duties are going to be once the constitution is finished. There is still a lot that remains to be seen and still a lot of confusion around."


    The AFP news agency is citing a security source as saying a policeman has been shot dead outside a polling station in Cairo.


    Hamdin Sabbahi, the candidate of the Nasserist Karama party, tells a news conference: "Egyptians are participating in creating the future of their country."


    Speaking while casting his ballot in 6 October City outside Cairo, People's Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatni stresses that MPs will co-operate with the next president, adding: "No-one knows who will become the next president but we hope that the elections will be free and fair. As for the government, it must represent the parliamentary majority." Mr Katatni is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates both houses of parliament.


    The state news agency, Mena, reports that Mr Katatni had to wait 40 minutes to vote. He tried to avoid queuing, but was told to stand in line by other voters, it says. Mr Katatni was applauded when he agreed to do so.


    More on the reported death in Cairo: AFP says the policeman was shot during a gunfight between the supporters of two candidates. Another person was injured in the clash, it adds.

    Rawya Rageh al-Jazeera reporter

    tweets: Women turning out in larger numbers than men in ‪#Suez‬ so far ‪#Egypt‬ ‪#EgyPresElex‬ ‪#EgyPresident


    Interior ministry spokesman Brig Alaa Mahmoud tells BBC Arabic that the police officer was killed during clashes between two candidates' supporters at 21:30 on Monday night - not on Tuesday as AFP reported earlier. He says Sgt Ahmed Abd al-Mowla had been inspecting security arrangements at a polling station in Cairo's Rawdh al-Faraj district when he was shot.

    Lara El Gibaly Freelance reporter

    tweets: In Abbasiya, most people we've spoken to say they're voting Shafiq. Strong military hand, able to bring security, they say.

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Cairo

    The al-Ahram newspaper is reporting that Ahmed Shafiq has been referred to prosecutors for breaking "election silence" by holding a press conference earlier today.


    Ahmed Shafiq, 70, served as commander of the Egyptian Air Force from 1996 to 2002 before becoming the country's first civil aviation minister. On 29 January 2011, President Mubarak named Shafiq prime minister in an attempt to appease protesters in Tahrir Square. He continued serving after Mr Mubarak's fall, but resigned less than a month later following demands from protesters who saw him as part of the old regime. Mr Shafiq portrays himself as the only contender who combines civilian experience with knowledge of the military, which is overseeing the democratic transition. Read a full profile here.

    Election poster for Ahmed Shafiq (2 May 2012)
    Shadi Hamid Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center

    tweets: It's pretty scary that Shafiq is already acting like he's gonna win. Maybe he knows something we don't know... #EgyPresElex


    Five judges have been excluded from supervising the elections because they guided voters to choose a certain candidate inside polling stations, Egyptian Channel 1 TV reports, according to BBC Monitoring.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: One constant I'm hearing from everyone voting today is that #Egypt needs 'a strong man' to bring security. Patriarchal society not dead yet!


    Egypt's first post-revolution presidential election dominates headlines and commentaries in the country's press, BBC Monitoring reports. The state-owned daily, al-Akhbar's headline reads: "Your vote, Egypt's future", while the state-owned al-Jumhuriya runs with "Democracy day". Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the liberal New Wafd party, carries a headline reading: "Egypt says goodbye to the age of tyranny", accompanied by a photo of a military vehicle outside a polling station.


    An editorial in the official newspaper, al-Ahram, describes the presidential election as a "defining moment", saying that "victory in the battle of freedom and democracy is just around the corner". Fahmi Huwaydi writes in al-Shuruk: "It is a fatal mistake to think that the conflict in the current presidential election is between Islamists and secularists or between advocates of a civil state and those supporting the religious state. It is instead a conflict between the revolution and the counter-revolution."


    Hatem Bagato, deputy head of the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC), says that what most polling stations are facing is simply large queues due to the high turnout of citizens, BBC Arabic reports. He says electoral officials are attempting to deal with it in the best way they can - by using large numbers of crowd-control officers, and by maintaining order in front of the polling stations and making the voting process easier.

    Men argue with a soldier as they queue to vote in Cario

    Mr Bagato also reveals that 300 judges had to pull out of observing the electoral process as they lived too far away from where they had been assigned. He says the HPEC accepted their apologies, and that they were replaced. No problems were reported as a result of their withdrawals, he adds.

    Reem Tarek

    tweets: What a feeling to see Egyptians voting, without knowing who's going to win ! ‪#EgyElections

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: As ‪#Egypt‬ queues up to vote here's the scene in ‪#Tahrir‬ where it all began

    Tahrir Square on election day
    Wael Ghonim Internet activist

    tweets: Its illogical to think that change we aspire for will happen in months. Its gonna be a long and tough way. Optimism is the fuel of change.


    One priority for Egypt's new president will be deciding what to do about the peace treaty with Israel signed more than 30 years ago back in the days of authoritarian military rule. The former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, tells the BBC World Service: "None of the presidential candidates have asked to cancel the peace agreement with Israel and that is a good sign…good relations between Israel and Egypt are an asset, not a liability."

    Magdi Abdelhadi writer and broadcaster

    blogs: The prospect of electing the country's first-ever president in a multi-candidate race is exhilarating. But when you look at what is on offer, many feel despondent.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: Judge at this polling station says already logged 10% of eligible voters by lunch time which means high turnout ‪#Egypt

    Polling station in Cairo


    Mohammed Mursi, who heads the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), tells reporters in Zagazig: "Today the world is witnessing the birth of a new Egypt. I am proud and cherish my membership of this people. I assure them that tomorrow will be better than today and better than yesterday." He adds: "The electoral scene today is the best it could be."

    Mohammed Mursi votes in Zagazig

    Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling army council, observed the voting process in Cairo at the Khalil Agha Secondary & Military Boys School in Bab al-Sha'riya on Wednesday morning, the semi-official Mena news agency reports.

    The Field Marshal was accompanied on his tour by General Hamdi Badeen, the head of the Military Police, according to Mena.

    Dina Wagih

    tweets: I dont know about others, but I think for a country that has been turned upside down a year ago we are doing great so far #EgyElections


    Nationalist presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahi, the candidate preferred by many of the protestors who took part in last year's revolution, has said that Egyptians are taking part in shaping their country's future for the first time in their history. Mr Sabahi was speaking to reporters as he was casting his ballot in Cairo's upscale Mohandiseen district.

    Lyse Doucet, BBC News, Cairo BBC News

    There have been reports of a good turnout so far across Egypt but many polling stations have not seen the long queues that formed for parliamentary elections a few months ago, according to Omnia al Desoukie, an Egyptian journalist with the BBC's team.


    The Secretary-General of the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) Hatem Bagato has denied that any judges have been excluded from supervising the elections, state-owned Nile TV has reported. Earlier, the Egyptian Channel 1 TV station said that five judges had been excluded because they guided voters to choose a certain candidate inside polling stations.

    Yousif El Helw

    tweets: Look how far we've made it! Egypt's very first, FREE elections. This makes me proud not only as an Egyptian, but as a human seeking justice.

    Abigail Hauslohner

    tweets: The would-be first ladies - conspicuously absent from #EgyPresElex - are featured in Wafd today. Half are photoshopped into frame

    A page from Egypt's Wafd newspaper showing the potential first ladies

    Leftist candidate Khaled Ali reports alleged irregularities at one polling station, tweeting: "Urgent: Al-Arwa Middle School in al-Ibrahimiya, Alexandria, does not have a curtain or indelible ink, and the station was opened before the delegates arrived, in violation of the law."

    Richard Spencer Daily Telegraph, Middle East correspondent

    writes: This is a battle for tribal loyalties, with huge consequences for Egypt and beyond.


    More on alleged irregularities: the Egyptian Coalition for Election Monitoring, a group of over 120 human rights groups and NGOs, has presented a notice to the head of the Higher Presidential Elections Commission, demanding an investigation into the late opening of some polling stations this morning.

    The Coalition also raised concerns about other violations that it says are marring the electoral process, such as cars with pictures of some of the candidates near some polling stations.

    Hala Gorani CNN Anchor

    tweets: Elderly female voter tells me she is voting today for her grandkids. Says they shouldn't have to pay for mess left behind by old regime.

    Wael Ghonim

    prominent activist and blogger, tweets: I just voted for AbolFotoh :)

    Wael Ghonim voting

    BBC Arabic reports that Masr el-Gedida secondary school, used as a polling station by former President Hosni Mubarak and his family during his rule, is not being used for voting on Tuesday. People due to vote there have been sent to nearby polling stations.


    Interestingly, al-Masry al-Youm reports that neither the former president nor 44 other former government officials and associates, who are currently detained on various charges, have applied to vote in the election. Egyptian law allows detainees to vote along as they have not been convicted. Mr Mubarak will find out on 2 June whether a judge believes he is guilty of ordering the killing of protesters. He could face the death penalty if convicted. More than 850 people were killed during the uprising.


    The Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyib, has urged Egyptians to cast their votes, saying it is their religious duty, the state news agency Mena reports. Describing the elections as a historic day, he called on the people to choose well and to abide by the results.

    Lauren Bohn assistant editor of the Cairo Review

    tweets: When asked how they're so confident, Muslim Brotherhood official replies: "Who else has not a campaign but a whole machine behind him?" #Egypt

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Awsim, Giza province

    tweets: In Cairo centre, got a spread for #Moussa, #Shafiq and #AbulFatouh but big contrast in Awsim village, 1hour away. #Mursi v popular here.

    Sarah in Cairo

    You're finally there in the voting room, with the pen & the sheet in front of you; and this is the moment of truth, this is probably the most important "tick" you will ever make. It took a few extra seconds than I thought it would; for a few seconds, I found myself reconsidering it all & wondering if the name I'll choose really IS the one...


    The deputy head of the Egyptian ambulance authority says 10 people have so far been injured in election-related incidents. Seven of them have been taken to hospital.

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: More voters expected at polls in #EgyPresElex after gov't employees clock off at 3pm. Heat might die off a bit too...


    The head of the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC), Farouq Sultan, tells a news conference that complaints have been sent to the attorney general about three candidates - Ahmed Shafiq, Mohammed Mursi and Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh. He says they have broken the rule that bans campaigning during the two polling days. BBC Arabic notes that almost all the candidates have issued statements on Tuesday and Mr Shafiq even held a news conference.


    Farouq Sultan of the HPEC also urges satellite channels to be "accurate", and says that electoral officials have also observed advertising violations from Ahmed Shafiq, Mohammed Mursi and Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh.


    Mr Sultan says the law against "breaking electoral silence" covers anything that is said by a candidate, including brief statements and news conferences.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Cairo

    tweets: Fascinating chat with policeman guarding polling station in #Cairo "People here are used to being told what to do," he said. "All morning they've asked me: 'Who do you like?' But I tell them: 'You must decide' because we need a president for us all. But I will not vote because I should just protect the vote and then we should all stand beside who wins for the sake of #Egypt."

    Hannah Alam McClatchy Newspapers reporter

    tweets: Almost fell over when a niqabi in Luxor told us she voted for Hamdeen Sabahi. "The veil is on my face, not my mind," she said. #Egypt

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: As women enter Awsim polling station they pass #MuslimBrotherhood men who recently gave out benzene gas. Nothing said. Just a reminder!

    Dr. Moataz Attallah in Birmingham

    writes: I sent my postal vote two weeks ago. I was really glad to do so, even though I am aware that my candidate has limited opportunities against the strong far-right Islamist candidates. Nonetheless, I believe that Egypt will float between right/Islamist then left-wing political directions for the coming decade, until it settles finally on the centrist political stream.


    Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh's presidential campaign says some members of the military, assigned to protect the polling station at Saleh Salem School in Suez City's al-Arbaeen district have been involved in guiding some voters to vote for candidates of the old regime, BBC Arabic reports. Mr Aboul Fotouh's website says his local representatives were beaten when they complained.

    Hannah Allam McClatchy Newspapers reporter

    tweets: In village in Luxor, old man said "I want the ladder" (Shafiq); couldn't see v well so judge filled/cast his ballot. Similar scenes elsewhere

    Borzou Daraghi

    writes in the Financial Times: Rural Egyptians, who make up about 57% of the population, turned decisively to Islamist candidates in parliamentary elections that ended in January. But in contrast, rural Egyptians preparing to vote on Wednesday in the country's first democratic presidential poll appear to be as politically fragmented as their urban counterparts.

    David Kenner

    asks in a Foreign Policy profile entitled "The Good Felool" [remnant or the Mubarak regime]: If Amr Moussa wins Egypt's presidential election, is the revolution over?


    The residents of two villages in al-Quwsiya, Assiut province, have announced that they are boycotting the presidential election in protest at a lack of bread and gas. Islam Radhwan of the newspaper, al-Ahram, told BBC Arabic that people in Beni Idriss say they do not receive essentials because they have not been given ration cards. The village also boycotted the recent parliamentary elections. The nearby village of Manshaa al-Sughra is boycotting this week's poll in solidarity.

    Miriam Amir in Cairo

    writes: For most Egyptians, this is the first time for them to vote for a president! I am planning to vote for Moussa while my husband is pro-Sabbahi. My parents already voted today for Shafiq. It is exciting that we don't know what the results could be! I want to thank the martyrs of the 25 January revolution.


    Ahmed Shafiq's presidential campaign has complained to the authorities that Amr Moussa's supporters are spreading rumours that it is buying votes, BBC Arabic reports. A complaint has also been lodged against Mohammed Mursi's supporters, who the Shafiq campaign says have been urging voters not to vote for the former prime minister. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh has meanwhile been accused of spreading "biased" information about Mr Shafiq.

    Derek Stoffel CBC News Middle East correspondent

    tweets: Some Egyptian voters angry that two of the candidates held press conferences today. In violation of #EgyPresElect rules.


    Mohammed Mursi's campaign says some of its monitors have "reported violations by the campaigns of certain candidates distributing electoral publicity materials near polling places in Cairo". "We have observed that some private Egyptian satellite TV channels are conducting a deliberate campaign against our candidate, making totally unfounded claims and accusations against our supporters." Several complaints have been filed against "unknown individuals who posed as members of the Mursi campaign", it adds.

    Wyre Davies BBC Middle East correspondent, Alexandria

    tweets: This may be a huge, historic day but #Egyptians appear more content & relaxed than I've seen them for many months.

    Nadia El-Awady, journalist in Cairo

    tweets: The complete lack of lines in front of poll stations makes me wonder if the long lines for parliament elections were due to threat of fines


    Observers Without Borders says turnout during the first four hours of voting was only around 10%, most of whom elderly and middle aged. The number of women who voted was low, it adds. BBC Arabic says other sources say turnout has been average in the provinces of Cairo, Giza, Assiut, Daqhilia, Sharqiya and Qalyubiya.

    Ayman Mohyeldin NBC News correspondent

    tweets: Like many #Egyptians, our family votes are divided #EgyElex. Main concerns among those in line at this polling station was "security".

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: #egypt will be #egypt. @KhaledFahmy11 tells us authorities whitewashed murals #tahrir so artists stayed up late & painted them again!


    One wonders if the offending murals included the one pictured below, which equates two of the presidential candidates, Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa, and the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, with former President Hosni Mubarak.

    Mural in Tahrir Square equating two of the presidential candidates, Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa, and the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, with former President Hosni Mubarak

    A spokesman for Ahmad Shafiq's campaign has said the news conference the candidate held on Wednesday morning did not break the ban on electoral campaigning during the election. "We decided on the conference after consulting with legal experts, who assured us press statements do not violate the 'election silence'," Ahmed Sarhan said, according to the state news agency, Mena. "We wanted to refute rumours of Shafiq's death after a sudden illness," Mr Sarhan added.

    Ben Wedeman CNN reporter

    tweets: Amazed at how dignified elections have become since Mubarak was overthrown. Under Mubarak elections were a complete farce. #Egypt One voter told me: "Even if we voted 'no' in the Mubarak referenda, somehow our votes always became 'yes'."

    Ahmed Raafat in Cairo

    The weather is very hot today but this didn't prevent people of all ages and genders from participating in the elections. I saw hope in the eyes of the electors. It's the first time people get the chance to choose among different candidates and feel that their vote counts.

    The Big Pharaoh Egyptian blogger

    tweets: Voters turnout seems to be lower than parliament elections. Either tomorrow will be hell or some ppl just got disinterested. #EgyElections


    Following a cabinet meeting, Egypt's Interior Minister, Mohammed Youssef, has declared that there had been "no crime" reported on polling day, BBC Arabic reports. He also said turnout had so far been greater than 40% in some provinces, and 25% in others.


    The interior minister also explained that the judges presiding over the polling stations would start counting the votes on Thursday, in front the candidates' representatives, and then provide them with a copy of the result. Ballot boxes would then be sealed before being transferred to the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC), he said. Mr Youssef said vote-rigging would be impossible.

    Nadia El-Awady journalist in Cairo

    writes: As I walked home, I eventually felt as if I wanted to cry. I held it back. A dialogue went through my head: "What if I made the wrong choice?". I have misgivings about every single one of the candidates. Strong misgivings even.

    Rawya Rageh Al-Jazeera English reporter

    tweets: Everyone I talked to said they voted Aboul Fottouh or Sabbahi. Anger towards Brotherhood palpable. #Suez #Egypt #EgyPresident

    Hamdeen Sabbahi votes in Cairo Hamdin Sabbahi is co-founder of Karama party, which supports the nationalist ideology of Nasserism
    Shadi Hamid Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center

    tweets: Just sat down with #Morsi spokesmen & senior FJP officials and had very interesting back-and-forth about MB performance, Abul Futouh, etc. Clear that MB has own distinct narrative about why things turned out way they did. They feel under attack so not much self-criticism.


    The Pew Research Centre has released survey data showing that on the eve of the election, 53% of Egyptians said they were hopeful about the future of their country. The same number were satisfied with the direction the country is taking, down from 65% in a poll conducted after the fall of Mubarak but significant higher than the 28% recorded in the final year of his rule.


    The ministry of health has announced that the number of those injured in election-related incidents on Wednesday has risen to 13, BBC Arabic reports. Most of the injuries were due to overcrowding at polling stations and the hot weather.

    Jack Shenker former Guardian Cairo correspondent

    tweets: Muslim Brotherhood campaign manager in Suez tells us they are confident Morsi will get 44% of vote here. Yet we haven't met a single Morsi voter yet.

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Cairo

    There has been a really strong turnout in Cairo's Sayyeda Zainab area. We have had queues right from the start of voting this morning - one for men and one for women. We are getting reports that it is not the same picture in other parts of the capital and in the countryside. Beyond the capital, in a country of nearly 90 million people, the turnout in some rural areas has been less than during the recent parliamentary elections. But there is a two-day voting period, so that might change.


    BBC Arabic's Dina Demrdash in Cairo reports that non-governmental organisations and human rights groups have begun issuing their observations on the first of two days of voting in the first round of presidential elections. Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) said that it had received 50 complaints of electoral violations so far, ranging from delay in opening voting booths, to campaigning for candidates outside polling stations. Observers Without Borders said it had filed three complaints with the Higher Presidential Election Commission.


    Internet activist Wael Ghonim, who played a key role in last year's uprising, tells BBC World News: "We took to the streets because we wanted to bring back Egyptians' right to choose whoever their president is and whoever represents them in parliament. Today is one more step towards democracy, which we have aspired to."


    Mr Ghonim adds: "We are basically getting rid of the concept of dictatorship. I don't think anyone will qualify from the first round to be president. This is what matters to me. Egyptians are actively participating in politics. Egyptians are no longer scared to say what they believe in. Of course, the result will impact on the direction the country is going in the next few years. Yet, overall the country is going in the right direction."

    Hany Assal, from Cairo, Egypt

    writes: Congratulations to all Egyptians! I voted in the elections this morning in Ameriya area, east Cairo. The poll station was overcrowded, but well organized. Everything was normal. I think it is a free and fair election with a high turnout.

    May Sadek

    tweets: My aunt is bribing me with home made lasgana and molokheya if i vote for #shafik #candidatedomesticfights

    Sarah El-Sirgany, Egyptian journalist

    tweets, suggesting turnout may be picking up in some areas late in the day: "At the Canal School. It was empty when I arrived 20 min ago. Now a queue outside. It's not as sunny. #suez #egyelex"


    Egyptian voters have been sharing their experiences of the day on BBC Arabic's Facebook page. Mohammed Taqi says: "The last presidential elections... I passed by a street next to the polling station with officials or thugs, you couldn't tell the difference, and they were banning everyone from coming through... But today when I went into the polling station the officer said "Please, can you wait a minute till the person before you comes out", and after he came out the officer said "go ahead sir" - these are simple and ordinary words but compare this to the past and you will see that we live in a state now."

    Christian Vachon

    tweets: Cabbie in Cairo tells me, "I vote for Shafiq. I once worked for him. He is a strong man. He has all of the Christian votes" #egypt


    The BBC's Dina Demrdash in Cairo says that turnout among women has reportedly been high, especially in the capital and in Alexandria, Egypt's second city. And more elderly voters were reported in the morning, as they preferred to cast their ballots in the first hours of the morning before the midday heat.

    Omar Abu Omar

    tweets: Today's ‪#EgElections‬ is history in the making. Our grand grandchildren will never hear the end of it in history classes (I hope) ‪#Egypt‬‬

    Sarah El Deeb, AP journalist

    tweets: Lines longer in down town Cairo and after sunset #egypreselex

    Women queueing to vote in Cairo
    Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo

    tweets: Egyptians do love a joke. One man coming out of polling station tells me, "I hope after all this we don't get a Tony Blair" #egyelections


    Voting has been extended by one hour until 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), state-run Nile TV has reported.

    Adam Makary al-Jazeera producer

    tweets: Official sources say voter turnout has started to increase in #Suez. By 730pm, likely to rise to 25%. Polls close at 8. Tomorrow-another day

    Islam Issa Birmingham

    writes: "If I was not an Egyptian, I would have wished to be an Egyptian."


    That concludes our coverage of the first day of Egypt's historic presidential elections. Polls are due to open again tomorrow at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT), when we will be back with more live coverage.


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