Egypt counting the votes in historic presidential election
CAIRO – Egyptians stood in tangled lines Thursday, the second and last day of balloting in a presidential race marked by millions of late-deciding voters and concern that the new leader will be hampered by an Islamist-controlled parliament and a ruling military reluctant to hand over power.
None of the top five candidates was likely to win 50 percent. Official results are expected to be released next week and a runoff to replace deposed President Hosni Mubarak is anticipated in mid-June.
Lines at polling stations lengthened in the cool of the afternoon and election observers reported only minor irregularities.
About 40 percent of voters were making their minds up at the last minute, according to polls. The race appeared to be narrowing to Islamist candidates Mohamed Morsi and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and secularists Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq, the old regime’s polarizing last prime minister, who on Wednesday dodged a crowd hurling rocks and shoes when he went to vote.
Exit polls suggested Morsi and Moussa were ahead, but such projections can be unreliable in a country prone to rumor and conspiracy. Moussa, a former foreign minister, has been a front-runner for weeks. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who had dropped in recent polls, appeared propelled by the Islamist group’s prodigious organizational network and the backing of clerics.
The elation on Wednesday’s first day of voting was subdued Thursday by worry that the president will take office without a new constitution to outline his powers. The ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces has indicated it will amend the existing constitution, a move seen as an effort to protect the army’s interests by limiting presidential authority.