For Egyptians, it was meant to be the culmination of their Arab Spring revolution.
Yet as polls closed in the country’s first free presidential election, its political future looks more uncertain than ever.
The Muslim Brotherhood says its Islamist candidate Mohamed Morsy won, ending a tradition of presidents plucked from the military. However there is no official tally and no meaningful independent polling on the head-to-head ballot which pitted Morsy against Ahmed Shafik.
A former general, Shafik was prime minister when Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and is regarded by critics as the military’s unofficial candidate.
Many voters stayed away, dismayed by what they saw as an unpalatable choice.
Whoever becomes president, they are set to find their powers restricted.
Egypt’s ruling generals dissolved the new Islamist-led parliament after judges said it was elected amid rules that violated the constitution. And, in a new declaration, the military council has made clear that, for now, legislative powers lie in its hands.