Cairo: Egyptians have started
casting their ballots in the first parliamentary elections since
former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising
earlier this year.
Long queues were seen outside many polling stations amid tight
security arrangements as voters flocked to the polls on Monday
morning. Voting in this round of the elections last for two days,
Al Jazeera reported.
Many Egyptians remained worried that there may be outbreaks of
violence at polling stations, while others have been concerned
that the nation remains polarised over the choice of candidates.
In some parts of the country, there were several logistical
problems in the morning, and polling stations had not opened more
than an hour after the time scheduled, as ballot papers and the
ink used to mark voters' fingers had not arrived.
"The two problems are this, one ballot papers arriving very late,
secondly, judges are arriving very late [and] some not even
turning up," Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reporting from Cairo's
densely populated Shubra district said.
Additionally, a ban on campaigning at polling stations has been
broken, with members of parties handing out pamphlets and banners.
However, Tadros added: "The mood is very much upbeat. I really
have not seen this kind of voter turnout."
“It was no use to vote before. Our
voices were completely irrelevant,” news Agency AFP quoted Mona
Abdel Moneim, one of several women who said they were voting for
the first time in their lives.
Samira (65) told AFP, “I am sick and I wasn’t planning on coming,
but what happened recently made me feel that I had to vote. For 30
years we were silent. It’s enough."
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reported from Assiut, one of the most
significant governorates in the Upper Egypt region, that there
appeared to be an exceptionally high turnout by the standards of
the country's previous votes.
"The lines have not stopped outside the polling centres," she
said. “If we're judging by the turnout, this has been by all
accounts a success."
Women were turning out in high numbers, unusual for such a
conservative region, she said.
There were no signs of violence or coercion, she reported, but
there were campaign violations as some parties continued to
campaign even as voting was underway.
Poor organisation by authorities was also an issue, she said.