Egypt holds its first truly democratic presidential election on Wednesday and Thursday.
Just three international groups are monitoring the vote to replace Hosni Mubarak who was forced from office in a popular uprising last year. But the powerful army has promised it will be free and fair.
General Mohamed El-Assar, from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces commented: “The security forces, whether the army or police, are determined that the elections should be carried out in complete safety, whether in terms of the electoral process or for those taking part in the election.
“We will not permit any violations in safeguarding polling stations, whether inside or outside them, or any attempt to influence the electoral process or influence voters.”
There are 12 candidates in all. Leading contenders include former Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, Mohamed Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafiq who was prime minister in the dying days of Mubarak’s regime.
If no one wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, the top two candidates will go through to a second round run-off in June.