Middle East

Egypt voters: 'We're making history'

Egyptian voters reflect on the experience of taking part in their first open and competitive presidential election, 15 months after ousting President Hosni Mubarak.

Sarah Hani, 25, NGO worker, Cairo

Image caption Sarah Hani says her concern is that people may not unite behind the winner

On Wednesday I set my alarm an hour early because I knew it was going to be a big day - one that we've been waiting for so long.

It was a fine day, there was a breeze, and people were just optimistic. You can't fail to be when you know that you're about to make history.

The queue was longer than we expected about 45 minutes before voting actually began. Just like we did during the parliamentary elections, we mingled with the others waiting to vote - socialising, talking about anything but the candidates we were supporting.

I was a supporter of Khalid Ali, but I switched to [independent] Hamdin Sabbah who has more or less the same ideological platform especially regarding social welfare.

I'm positive about the process of voting but not so positive about the potential outcome. My main concern now is that Egyptians may not accept the result whoever wins the election.

I've already heard people saying they are ready to go to Tahrir Square once more if voters elect someone from the old regime or from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Raouf Aly Hafez, 68, retired, Cairo

This is my first vote for a president in all my 68 years.

I was at the polling station from the early hours of the morning - arriving an hour before it opened and waiting for another hour before voting.

I have never witnessed so many women voters along with the men - I pray that this is a good omen. People are taking part for the first time. They are now being counted as human beings.

I hope this election will change Egypt for the better. I also hope things will settle down after the process and the country will become more stable, then we can get the economy back on its feet and the tourists will come back.

I am looking for a leader with experience - I don't want someone who is learning on the job, so I voted for [former foreign minister] Amr Moussa.

Whoever wins I wish him all the best as we should all rally together for the good of this country.

Ahmed Sherif Soufi, 22, manager at software firm, Giza

Image caption Ahmed Soufi: "What happens next depends on who wins the election."

The voting was really smooth and there were lots of positives. The queue was long but military and police officials did their job in organising it. The process inside the polling station did not take more than five minutes.

The way normal people reacted towards different candidates shows that Egypt is really going in the right direction. People waiting in the queue were happy to be able to exercise their right to vote.

As an Egyptian, I am really proud to be a part of this - and proud of finally being able to get my voice heard. Of course, it is important not to forget our martyrs - we wouldn't be in this situation if they hadn't acted.

I want my country to become more organised and to stand up for Egyptians abroad. I want the government to tackle poverty - it's not nice to see hungry children when you walk down a street.

What happens next depends on who wins. I don't want to see any candidate who served in the old regime win this election - as they will just bring back that regime. I don't want the Muslim Brotherhood to win either as they already have control of parliament.

I voted for [moderate Islamist] Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh but would be happy if [independent] Hamdin Sabbahi won.

Khaled Abdelhady, 21, student, Alexandria

Image caption Khaled: "This is the last chance to realise the benefits of the revolution"

I voted on Wednesday, the queues were long but shorter than during the parliamentary elections - I guess many might vote on Thursday.

I have not seen any violations in my area of Sidi Bishr, Alexandria. This is better than during the parliamentary elections when there were many flyers close to the polling stations.

I also sense more diversity in the voters than during the last elections - I hope this reflects more awareness in the voting.

I voted for [moderate Islamist] Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh as I think he can unite Egypt from the far left to the far right.

I think people had slightly lost hope because of the problems following the overthrow of Mubarak. This election is the last chance to realise the benefits of the revolution.

I think people have realised they must stop fighting each other so they can build up the country and stop the old regime from coming back.

We need to concentrate on sorting out our economic situation and get security back in order.

Interviews by Nathan Williams, BBC News