First Presidential Election Since Mubarak’s Ouster Underway in Egypt
(CAIRO) -- Long lines snaked out of polling stations across Egypt Wednesday morning as Egyptians went to cast their ballots in the country's first presidential election since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last February.
The sunny day was reflected in the attitudes of the voters who waited happily and calmly, often for hours, to cast their ballots for the 13 candidates running.
"I think everyone's upbeat, everyone's looking forward to the future," said Mohammed Kamel, the CEO of real estate development firm who was waiting to vote at a school in Giza. "The country's sort of been on hold for the past 15 months, everyone's looking for stability."
The faces of the candidates stared out from campaign posters lining Cairo's congested streets. Voters studied registration lists on walls to figure out where to go as soldiers and police kept the lines at polling stations moving as swiftly as they could. Turnout was expected to top 60 percent among Egypt's 50 million voters.
Polling in the country has been inconsistent and is generally unreliable, but at least four frontrunners have emerged in the race to replace Mubarak and send the military, which has been ruling the country, back to their barracks. They include Mubarak's former foreign minister, Amr Moussa; a former Muslim Brotherhood official, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh; Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq; and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi.
Many Cairo voters on Wednesday also expressed support for liberal candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi. If no candidate gets 50 percent in the first round, the top two candidates will face each other in a run-off in mid-June.
Aside from the big question of who will be president, equally pressing are the questions of what his powers will be -- given that a new constitution has not yet been written -- and how prominent the role of the military will be.
But those concerns seemed to take a back seat to the significance of the day as the voters, most reticent to reveal who they were voting for, expressed hope for this new chapter in Egyptian history.
"I'm very happy, I feel freedom," said a female voter. "Of course I'm optimistic, a new Egypt and a new era."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio