Polls have opened in Egypt for the country’s first presidential elections. But as voting begins critics are crying foul.
Hosni Mubarak is widely expected to win a fifth, six year term as leader of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The 32 million people who registered to vote have a choice of 10 candidates. Most of them are unknown. The largest opposition group, the moderate Muslim brotherhood, could not field a candidate because it is barred from forming a political party. 77-year-old Mubarak has ruled Egypt for 24 years. His decision to hold presidential elections sparked a political debate not witnessed for decades. But many Egyptians are sceptical that any of the candidates can deliver on promises to create jobs or relieve poverty. The government says the election will be fair. Representatives of the 10 candidates can watch voting inside polling stations, and, after a legal wrangle, independent monitors have also been allowed in. They have been told to first get permission from the electoral commission and not to interfere with the voting process. Several medium sized opposition parties are boycotting the elections, saying the arrangements are unfair.