Relive first day of Egypt's 2014 presidential election

Hazel Haddon, Randa Ali, Salma Shukrallah, Ayat Al-Tawy, Marina Barsoum, Kevin Dean, Hala Ahmed, Sally Shokry, Monday 26 May 2014

First of two days of voting in Egypt's presidential election saw voters choose between former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi; Ahram Online reporters followed the events of the day as they unfolded

An Egyptian man casts his ballot
Voters on Monday outside polling station in Zeitoun, east Cairo (Photo: Sherry Gergawi)

22:00 Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab declares Tuesday a holiday for government workers to encourage participation in the polls.

21:00 Polling stations across the country are preparing to close their doors for the night. However, stations will remain open for those who got in line before the scheduled closing time.

20:50 The European Union, which has deployed 150 observers across Egypt, has issued a statement saying it will reveal its findings two days after the election so as to remain impartial and not interfere by issuing premature assessments.

"This is the election of the Egyptian people. An EU [observation mission] neither legitimises the electoral process nor does it validate the election results," the statement read.

The statement said the EU will continue to observe the electoral process after voting finishes on Tuesday through monitoring the counting and tallying of results as well the complaints and appeals process and the official announcement of results.

20:35 Mohamed Sadek, El-Sisi's campaign representative at Al-Nasr's School, another principle polling station in 6 October city, told Ahram Online's Bassem Abo Al-Abass that only 2,000 out of 5,902 registered voters have cast their ballots so far.

Sadek added that around 85 percent of voters are over 40 years old.

Inside the same polling station, Sabahi’s representative Ammar Eid said that around 250 young people turned out on Monday. He added that his candidate was the favourite among young voters.

Eid complained that Sabahi’s campaign hasn’t yet been given a permit to spend the night with the ballot boxes -- and with only 30 minutes left until the station closes, it doesn’t seem likely. Their rival's campaign was given the permit, though, Eid said.

20:15 After a slow afternoon, turnout seems to be picking up at several polling stations in Hadayek Al-Kobba, a mixed neighbourhood of working- and middle-class residents in Cairo. While the stations aren't packed, lines tens-deep with voters have formed at several stations in the neighbourhood, says Ahram Online's Ahmed Abdel-Rasoul.

20:10 Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi takes to Twitter to denounce the arrest of his campaign member Ahmed Hanafy, describing it as "a violation of the law".

"Ahmed's life and that of all the campaign's representatives are the responsibility of the government," said the leftist candidate, who demanded his team member’s immediate release.

According to the campaign, Hanafy, a lawyer, was beaten by the police and referred to military prosecution. The campaign expressed its rejection of the referral, affirming that the military prosecution lacks jurisdiction in the matter.


20:05 A bit of unrest as darkness falls in Cairo: security forces have managed to quench protests by Morsi supporters in the eastern districts of Al-Amiriya and Gesr Al-Suez, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic website.

Around 150 supporters attempted to block traffic on Gesr Al-Sewis Road and disrupt the voting process in the area.

In Al-Ameriya, 60 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to car tyres in Al-Sawah Square. Security forces dispersed both gatherings and arrested some of the protesters.

19:50 Three alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested during a protest calling for a boycott of the election in the Nile Delta’s Damietta, Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website has reported.

Damietta’s security head told Al-Ahram that the suspected Islamists were arrested after the police dispersed their protest that began in Al-Basarta village, known for its loyalty to the Brotherhood. The protesters called for the reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi and denounced the candidacy of ex-defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Monday's voting has been relatively calm so far, with only a few protests reported.

19:45 Get on the bus: the Salafist Nour Party's Nader Bakkar told the BBC that the party helped transport citizens to their respective polling stations on Monday, especially those who cast their ballots in faraway locations. However, Bakkar asserted that the Nour Party did not sway voters' opinions towards either candidate.

The Nour Party, formerly a supporter of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, has emerged as a major supporter of El-Sisi and Egypt’s interim authorities since last summer. 

Voters queueing
Voters in front of Generation 2000 School in 6 October city (Photo: Bassem Abo Al-Abbas)

19:30 Just 90 minutes to go before polling stations close and both campaigns are feeling confident.

Mona El-Qoeidy, a spokeswoman for El-Sisi’s campaign, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that the campaign is expecting participation from all "factions of the society" in the election.

"People will participate in the poll because they're writing the nation's history," said El-Qoeidy.

Her comments come shortly after Sabahi's team issued a statement saying that El-Sisi will only garner the votes of women and the elderly, leaving the rest of the votes to the former army chief’s rival.

19:15 A 27-year-old construction engineer passing by a polling station in 6 October city told Ahram Online's Bassem Abo Alabass that he has decided to boycott this year’s poll.

"I am not convinced of either candidate," said Ahmed Edris, adding that many of his friends have also decided to boycott the vote.

In the 2012 election, Edris voted for Abul-Fotouh in the first round and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in the run-off.

"However, my father who supports El-Sisi has decided to vote for Sabahi because he feels bad for him not getting a lot of votes," he added.

19:00 Some hiccups on a generally quiet day: voters queueing in Mahalla Al-Kobra in the Nile Delta reportedly discovered cannabis plants being grown in the yard of a school that was being used as a polling station, according to independent media network Welad El-Balad, and security forces were called in to confiscate the plants.

18:45 A relatively slow and peaceful day so far, with few clashes and no reports of injuries or deaths, in contrast to most national elections since Egypt's 2011 revolution.

The constitutional referendum held in January of this year saw ten people killed on the first day alone.

18:30 Sabahi campaign spokesman Masoum Marzouk said in a press conference that some violations were reported by campaign representatives, mentioning that campaign lawyer Ahmed Hanafy was arrested in Giza and referred to the military prosecution after a row with police.

Marzouk said campaign observers are apprehensive about what they feel is a low turnout so far and said the participation of young people will be the determining factor during the next day, arguing that young people will mainly vote for Sabahi.

18:15 A representative of Sabahi’s campaign in 6 October city complained to Ahram Online’s Bassem Abo Alabass that the Giza court was late in issuing the legal permits for 13 of the campaign’s representatives to monitor the election in the district. They only received the authorisations on Monday at 3pm.

17:45 The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has issued a statement, saying that a huge number of Egyptians have boycotted the first day of the presidential elections in protest at the "military takeover."

"The Egyptian youth who led the 25 January revolution have showed the world by their boycott of the elections that Egypt has a legitimate president (Morsi)," the statement read.

17:30 In Giza’s working-class Imbaba district security is tight as police check voters’ bags before they enter, unlike in Sheikh Zayed and Zamalek where security was more relaxed. In Gawad Hosny Experimental School, a men-only polling station, no lines had formed and voters cast their ballots swiftly, reported Ahram Online’s Passant Darwish. According to the judges presiding over the station, around 20 percent of the 6,000 registered voters had showed up. No monitors for Sabahi were present.

At another polling station in Imbaba, set in Imbaba Industrial School for Boys, the judge overseeing the process told Darwish that 703 voters out of 4,800 registered had voted so far. An El-Sisi monitor said that he had not seen any violations. He added that the Sabahi monitor had been present but had left, probably to check on another station.

17:15 Some more reports of violations, this time from Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s campaign.

The campaign issued a statement saying a judge was excluded from the polling station at Al-Sahel school in Cairo's Shubra district after she allegedly asked voters to vote for Sabahi.

The campaign added that a number of civil servants were found asking voters to choose Sabahi "for the sake of the martyrs" or telling them their names were not in the database after they found out who they are voting for.

The statement also accusing Sabahi's campaigners of breaking the law by allowing campaign delegates to circulate between different polling stations, instead of requiring each delegate to remain in a single station as mandated by the electoral regulations.

A legal source tells Ahram Online, however, that there are two types of permit for campaign representatives in polling stations, one of which allows the representatives to be present at any polling station, while the other requires them to remain at a specified location.

Meanwhile, there are reports from Alexandria that a member of the Sabahi team was arrested while trying to photograph violations.

Mohamed Magdy was arrested by security forces and sent to Montzah police station, reported Al-Ahram Arabic.

Ahram Online’s Bassem Abo Alabass also heard reports of some apparent violations from the Sabahi campaign at Generation 2000 school in 6 October city.

The Sabahi monitor at the station, Hazem El-Ghitani, complained of violations by El-Sisi supporters, who he said gathered in front of the school wearing T-shirts with El-Sisi’s picture on them and playing loud music. El-Ghitani added that when he reported it to the police officer deployed to the station, he did not take any action.

The representative of the leftist candidate added that out of approximately 5,000 voters registered with the station, only 800 has cast their votes so far.  

17:00 The head of the Presidential Elections Commission, Abdel-Aziz Salman, has denied reports that voting will be extended for an extra day, stressing that the polls will close as scheduled on Tuesday.

He also said that there are no special polling stations from those residing outside their hometowns, adding those who hasn't already registered can only vote in their hometown.

16:45 According to security officials, a total of six improvised explosive devices were discovered at three different locations so far today.

Hisham Youssef, head of the explosives division in the Giza security bureau, told Al-Ahram Arabic that two improvised explosive devices were found in Giza, but experts were able to defuse them.

IEDs were also defused in Kafr El-Sheikh, while in Fayoum, an improvised device exploded, but no injuries were reported.

Bomb attacks, primarily targeting security forces, have become common in Egypt in recent months. An explosion in the morning of 14 January, the first day of the constitutional referendum, caused significant damage to nearby buildings, but left no casualties. 

 Hadayek Al-Kobba
Women dancing in front of a polling station in Hadayek Al-Kobba (Photo: Ahmed Abdel-Rasoul)

16:30 Speaking to Ahram Online’s Bassem Abo Alabass in front of Generation 2000 school in 6 October city, 55-year-old Madiha Hassan, a doctor who describes herself as not “politically affiliated to any group” says she voted for El-Sisi as she sees him as the right man for the current stage.

“He will be able to save the country from the conditions it is suffering from,” she said, adding that even if El-Sisi wasn’t running in the race she wouldn’t have picked his rival, Hamdeen Sabahi because “he isn’t a leader.”

But Ahmed El-Zoghby, 28, said he would vote for the leftist candidate. “He has a clear programme,” he told Abo Alabass, adding that he was annoyed by “the trend towards El-Sisi fanaticism.”

16:15 Bahaa Kashef, 23, a mass communications student voting in Sheikh Zayed in 6 October city says he voted for El-Sisi as an alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood, who he blames for the militant attacks in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster.

A monitor from the Sabahi campaign told Ahram Online's Passant Darwish that 1,200 people out of 6,113 registered voters had cast their ballots so far at El-Sheikh Zayed Secondary School for Girls.

16:00 In Cairo's Nasr City, Ahram Online's Dina Ezzat spoke to Ghada, in her early 30s, who was escorting her mother to the polls.

“I am just trying to get out of the bad mood I am in by reaching out to some people through Facebook; my mother is going to vote for him (El-Sisi] and I cannot believe she is doing this. She voted for Hamdeen [Sabahi] last time [in 2012] and this time she said that Hamdeen is not up to the job now and it has to be an army officer.”

Ghada herself voted for Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh in the first round of the 2012 elections, and boycotted with the rest of her family in the second round “because I did not want either Ahmed Shafiq or [Mohamed] Morsi. This time round, she says she will boycott, because she is not completely convinced by Sabahi.

A few other voters at nearby polling stations also told Ezzat that they were voting for Sabahi.

Salma, a graduating university student, said she voted for the leftist because “I thought that he gets some votes to show that the revolution is not completely dead.”

She said that in 2012, she had been excited to go vote for her chosen candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, who is boycotting this time.

This time, Salma said, “I feel like I am going to pay my respects to a family who have lost a relative.”

Lamia, a PR consultant in her mid-30s, a resident of Heliopolis, is also voting for Sabahi. “I am very grateful to El-Sisi for having removed the Muslim Brotherhood ... but I think we should have a civilian president. I hoped El-Sisi would have stayed on as minister of defence; he is a great man but I don’t want to have the military involved in the political process again. That was the whole purpose of the revolution”. 

Mina, a university student who is voting in Nasr City, also said he would vote for Sabahi. “I really hate the fact that people think that all of us Christians are voting for El-Sisi. We're not one block. I'm not the only one among my friends who is voting for Sabahi."

15:55 In Ain Shams in eastern Cairo, where Morsi supporters often clash with police and civilian opponents, several polling stations have seen a low turnout, reported Al-Ahram Arabic. A judge attributed the slow progress to the intense midday heat.

In downtown Cairo, Ahram Online's Rowan El-Shimi has also found signs of a low turnout. At least two polling stations in the area are almost empty, she reports, with one or two voters showing up every few minutes.

A popular pro-army tune can be heard booming from loudspeakers outside one of the stations. 

15:45 Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has said in a press conference that his cabinet will resign as soon as the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) announces the results of the election.

Mahlab was asked to form a new government on 25 February after former prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi and his cabinet resigned the previous day.

15:35 Nader Bakkar, a co-founder of the Salafist Nour Party, is tweeting pictures showing Nour supporters voting in the elections. You can find an op-ed by Bakkar in which he explains Nour's position on the vote here.  

15:30 According to Tharwat Ibrahim, a monitor from the Sabahi campaign at one of the 6 October city polling stations, the turnout is currently modest in comparison to the morning, which Ibrahim attributes to the hot weather.

“So far we have 600 votes out of 6,000 (registered voters) and no violations have been detected,” he told Ahram Online’s Bassem Abo Alabass.

Nour Party
A microbus in Alexandria bearing posters showing El-Sisi's image and the Nour Party logo (Photo: Al-Ahram Arabic)

15:15 Sabahi’s official campaign has said it has identified several violations so far today.

In a report obtained by an Ahram Online correspondent, the campaign says that several representatives of its team have been detained at polling stations in different governorates, others have been barred from entering, and that campaigning was illegally allowed inside and outside some stations. Governorates where violations have been reported include Giza, Minya in Upper Egypt, and Ismailia and Qalioubiya in the Nile Delta.

14:45 Seven students were detained after protesting near Zagazig University, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

Security and military forces in Zagazig -- the capital of Sharqiya governorate in the Nile Delta -- dispersed the protest and restored calm. The students, described as supporters of Mohamed Morsi, were reportedly chanting slogans against the police and the military.

Unplanned protests are illegal under a controversial law passed in November which requires all demonstrations to receive prior approval from the authorities.

14:15 More assurances from the authorities that the security situation is under control. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has said that the election is proceeding smoothly, adding that the high turnout is a positive sign. 

He called on citizens to participate in the elections regardless of which candidate they support, MENA reported.

“From what I see so far nothing scares the Egyptian people,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to scare them.”

Egypt has witnessed a wave of militant attacks primarily targeting security forces since the ouster of Morsi last July.  

14:00 Four polling stations in El-Hawamdeya, Giza, witnessed a low turnout, employees supervising inside the stations told Ahram Online’s reporter Mohamed Nada. They blamed the low turnout on hot weather, saying it will probably increase in the evening.

13:45 More reports of clashes in a former Islamist stronghold, this time in Kerdasa in Giza.

Al-Ahram Arabic reports that security forces used teargas to disperse dozens of Mohamed Morsi supporters who have been trying to prevent voters from casting their ballots in the town. Fourteen policemen were killed last summer when forces loyal to Morsi took over the local police station . 

13:15 High turnouts have been reported at polling stations in the cities of Port Said, Ismailiya and Beni Sueif by independent media network Welad El-Balad.

Four masked men threw fireworks at the Monastery of Father Paula, north of Beni Sueif, reported Welad El-Balad, before fleeing the scene.

Apart from that, the electoral process seems to be proceeding smoothly in the governorates, reports the network. One pro-Morsi protest was however reportedly dispersed in Fayoum, after blocking the Fayoum-Cairo road for about half an hour.

Minister of local development and management, Adel Labib, has said that he expects the voting process to be extended to a third day due to what he described as a high turnout.

Labib said that he expects that the turnout this year will be very high and that it would be not less than 26 million, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.

Turnout in the second round of 2012’s presidential election was 26.5 million nationwide, out of 51 million registered voters.

While voting in Dokki in Giza, Labib praised the role of the military and police who are securing the polling stations across the country.

13:00 Turnout seems to be low at several polling stations in Hadayek Al-Kobba, a mixed neighbourhood of working class and middle class residents in Cairo, where women voters surpass men.

Ahram Online's Ahmed Abdel-Rasoul reports that two of the polling stations he visited had queues of about a dozen voters, while another four had no queues at all.

"I came to vote today to save my country from being another example of Iraq. I am also voting because choosing the right president will save Egypt and will result in a better future for my grandchildren,” said a 55-year-old housewife who declined to give her name.

Security is tight at the polling stations, with many streets blocked off and cars banned from approaching voting areas.

Abdel-Rasoul also reports that a group of young men wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the name of a prominent local businessman Hussein Abu Gad are moving around the different polling stations in the district to help waiting voters, distributing bottles of mineral water.

Abu Gad is a former member of Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, and currently supports the Free Egyptians Party -- a liberal grouping that is backing El-Sisi.

Egyptian woman dancing
Egyptian women dancing outside Abu Bakr El-Siddiq polling station in Dokki, Cairo (Photo: Amr Qotb)

12:40 Footage of women dancing outside a polling station in Cairo's Helmeyet El-Zaitoun:

12:30 The first reports of sustained clashes come from Delga in Minya, Upper Egypt. Al-Ahram Arabic reports that clashes broke out between security forces and supporters of Mohamed Morsi in the town. Delga was taken over and held by Morsi supporters last summer, and held for two months until recaptured by security forces.

Pro-Morsi protesters reportedly threw stones at forces stationed outside a polling station in the town who responded by firing rounds of teargas to scatter the crowds, Al-Ahram Arabic reported, adding that clashes are ongoing.

12:20 Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb has voted in his hometown El-Qarna near Luxor in Upper Egypt. Pope Tawadros, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, voted earlier today in Cairo.

12:10 Members of the Salafist Nour Party are helping voters to cast their ballots and reach their respective polls in Alexandria and in Sohag, Al-Ahram Arabic reports. The group, a former ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, has now thrown its weight behind El-Sisi.

Nour has formed a central operations room to observe the polling process and handle complaints.

The party has also provided vehicles to transport voters in the governorate to the polling stations.

The party did not endorse the mass protests that led to Morsi's ouster last year, but gave its blessing to a transitional roadmap set out by interim authorities who removed him from power.

woman casts her vote
A woman casts her vote at Sayeda Zeinab polling station in Cairo (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

12:00 Ahram Online reporter Mohamed Nada says polling stations in El-Hawamdeya in Giza, just oustide the capital, are almost empty.

El-Hawamdeya, considered an Islamist stronghold, has seen violent clashes with security forces since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. A local police station has been torched twice.

No violence however has been reported there today.

11:45 Seven polling stations in Upper Egypt’s Assiut were late to open, according to a complaint sent to the governorate’s elections operation room. The supervising judges failed to arrive on time due to traffic, the governorate’s secretary-general Magdy Selim told Al-Ahram Arabic.

11:30 Here's a brief guide showing which political groups are supporting which candidate. 

El-Sisi has support from Nour Party, the Salafist grouping that came second to the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2011/2012 presidential elections. He also has the backing of the liberal Free Egyptian Party and Wafd Party, and the leftist Tagamoa Party.

Sabahi has the support of liberals like the Constitution Party, and leftists including the Socialist Popular Alliance, and the Revolutionary Socialists. He's also supported by the Karama Party, which he used to head, and of course by his own Egyptian Popular Current.

11:25 A representative from Hamdeen Sabahi’s campaign, Waad Ahmed, tells Ahram Online that in Alexandria’s Smouha district she has detected no violations so far. She says, however, that turnout is very low at the polling stations she is monitoring.

11:20 Turnout seems to be quite low at several polling stations in Al-Bohouth in Giza's Dokki district, where women's numbers noticeably surpass those of men, Ahram Online's Rowan El-Shimi reports, compared to the 2012 elections when she remembers long queues of voters.

Middle-aged Faten Hosni says she "wants the country to stabilise. I voted for El-Sisi because he is a strong army man who will be able to rule well like [former president] Mubarak did."

11:15 Lots of reports of voters dancing to ‘Teslam El-Ayady’ (Bless The Hands), a pro-military song released after the ouster of Morsi.

Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi
Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi speaks to the media while waiting to cast his vote in Mohandiseen (Photo courtesy of Sabahi campaign Facebook page)

11:10 In Al-Gamaliya, the historic heart of Islamic Cairo where El-Sisi grew up, long queues of women and the elderly were reported at several polling stations by state news agency MENA. Voters are casting their ballots as patriotic songs boom from loudspeakers outside.

11:00 Several groups are boycotting today’s election in protest. The Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy argue that Mohamed Morsi -- in prison facing an array of charges -- is still Egypt's legitimate president and have called for a boycott and for protests.

A number of non-Islamist groups are also boycotting the election, including most of the members of the Way of the Revolution Front, which includes the April 6 Youth Movement and the April 6 Democratic Front. The Revolutionary Socialists, also members of the front, decided to back Sabahi, however.

The Strong Egypt Party, led by Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, who came fifth in the 2012 presidential elections, is also boycotting.

10:50 African Union observers can be seen at a polling station in Giza’s Dokki district, where queues are getting shorter, reported Zeinab El-Guindy.

10:45 The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, has voted in a polling station in Abassiya, central Cairo.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has also arrived at a polling station in Cairo’s Maadi district to cast his vote.  

10:40 Although the Presidential Elections Commission has announced that all polling stations opened on time, Al-Ahram Arabic reported at 10am that three polling stations in Safaga port in the Red Sea governorate had still not yet opened.

In Matariya, an eastern district of Cairo and an area that has seen lots of pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests in recent months, there were huge lines of female voters at polling stations, and there were a number of popular -- ie unofficial -- committees searching bags of voters, according to an Al-Ahram Arabic reporter on the scene. 

Presidential candidate and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (C) arrives with his bodyguards at a polling station to cast his vote during the presidential election in Cairo May 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

10:30 In the city of Suez, a military helicopter is hovering amid tightened measures to secure the voting and the city's key waterway, the Suez Canal, a military source told Al-Ahram Arabic.

10:20 Security forces have dispersed a protest by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Alexandria, and arrested ten of its participants, reported Al-Ahram’s Arabic website.

Alexandria security official Nasser El-Abd said that the protest was dispersed in accordance with the protest law, which bans any demonstrations that have not obtained a permit from authorities in advance.

The law has stoked controversy, with critics of the authorities arguing that it is deployed selectively and used to quell legitimate opposition. Security officials say the law is a necessary measure in the face of militant attacks.

El-Abd said that the protesters were aiming to distort the electoral process using Molotov cocktails and fireworks. He added that security forces are deployed around all polling stations.

Police and army are cooperatively securing the electoral process, a security source explained to the Ahram Arabic website. Army forces are also deployed in front of polling stations and in nearby streets.

10:15 An EU monitoring group has arrived at a polling station in Maadi, says Ahram Online’s Dina Samak.

The EU is one of a number of observation missions that are deployed on the ground today. The African Union has also sent observers, as has the Arab League and the Arab Parliament. There are also a number of NGOs monitoring the vote.

10:00 In Orman polling station in Agouza, Giza, security refused to allow media inside polling stations before 12pm, reports Zeinab El-Guindy.

Observers from NGO Democracy International were allowed to enter the polling station, however.

In front of the polling station, Salma Sayed, a middle class woman in her twenties, says she will vote for El-Sisi because she believes and hopes that he will rescue the country.

“Voting is the way to fix the country” she tells El-Guindy.

9:50 Further comments from Sabahi, who spoke to the media a little while ago while queueing to cast his vote in Mohandiseen. The leftist said he “strongly objected" to a draft law setting out new rules for the upcoming parliamentary elections. "We need a parliament that fits the revolution...where at least 50 percent [of candidates run on] party lists and one that cultivates a democratic base."

"Egyptians' pain of poverty is no less than their pain of terrorism and [lack] of security," Sabahi added.

"We don't want to give priority to security while leaving people hungry...we want to move forward in parallel."

Naguib Sawiris
Naguib Sawiris (second from left) waiting to vote at a polling station in Zamalek (Photo: Lina El-Wardani)

9:35 Doors were around half an hour late to open at the Gomhoreya School polling station in Cairo’s upscale Maadi district, reports Ahram Online’s Dina Samak -- bad news for the long queues of voters waiting outside.

“We can wait. It’s only one day,” a middle aged woman tells other waiting voters. Several women ululate in celebration.

Meanwhile, in Agouza’s Qawmiyya polling station, Ibtesam, the widow of a police officer, tells Ahram Online she is voting because “it is important to build the nation’s future.” She says she will vote for El-Sisi because “he cares for the country and saved it from chaos.”

9:30 Candidate Hamdeen Sabahi has also cast his vote, in Mohandiseen in Giza. TV footage shows him pressed on all sides by crowds.

"We hope for a large reach 30 million," Sabahi told waiting reporters. The leftist contender pledged to “make serious decisions (that would) fulfilling the legitimate dreams of Egyptians, namely social justice, rectifying the situations of those in prisons for [expressing] their well as [launching] a war on corruption," he added.

9:25 Abdel-Aziz Soliman, general secretary of the Presidential Elections Commission -- the judicial body responsible for organising the election -- has stated that all polling stations have opened on time and there have been no complaints reported so far.

He also said that turnout seems high, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.

9:20 Outgoing president Adly Mansour, has reached his polling station in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, reported Al-Ahram Arabic website.
Presidential hopeful El-Sisi has also arrived at a different polling station in the same district to cast his ballot. Television footage shows him, surrounded by numerous bodyguards, struggling to move through excited crowds.

Sayeda Zeinab polling station inner
Voters line up at one of Sayeda Zeinab 's polling stations. The poster shows the symbol of Egypt's armed forces, and a slogan reading: "Go down (and vote)... We will protect you" (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Military helicopters have also been seen hovering over Heliopolis.

9:10 Outside Cairo, security is tight at polling stations across several governorates. Police and troops have been heavily deployed in the Nile Delta's Gharbiya, Sharqiya and Fayoum, all north of the capital, and security barriers have been erected along the streets leading to polling stations, closing them off to traffic, according to Al-Ahram Arabic’s reporters.

9:00 Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who is a founding member of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, was standing in a long queue in front of Zamalek School. He smiles and tells Lina El-Wardani that he is very hopeful “the new leader will not be a dictator; he will have to respect human rights and law. Democracy will bring stability.” The Free Egyptians Party is one of the groups that are supporting El-Sisi's candidacy.

When asked about the deteriorating economy Sawiris said that democracy is the only way to save the economy. “Egypt is a very rich country. We have great resources. If the leader of the country’s puts his own interest and the country’s as one, this will work for our benefit and the economy will revive.”

8:55 Waiting in a long queue outside a polling station in Cairo's Zamalek, Father Althanasius Wanis, a Coptic Orthodox priest in the northern Giza bishopric, told Ahram Online’s Lina El-Wardani: “I have stood in longer queues. I have voted every time since January 2011. Egyptians now have awareness and know their vote matters. I am confident Egyptians will turn out in huge numbers to face the terrorists.”

Wanis denied the church is favouring either candidate. “We just want people to vote. Egyptians and especially Copts have suffered a lot during the past year. It is time for a fair leader with vision to run this country and come to its rescue.”

8:50 Queues are forming at polling stations already, according to Ahram Online's reporters on the ground. At Qawmeya school in Giza’s Agouza district, there are already long lines of both men and women, according to Zeinab El-Guindy, who says that the voters are mostly middle aged or elderly. One woman holds a poster of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

There are also long lines in Sayeda Zeinab, a working class district of Cairo. Mai Shaheen reports that security in front of the polling stations is very tight; at El-Baheya El-Borahneya polling station, military security refuses to let voters in yet, causing an argument. Some voters try to make their way inside by force while security pushes them back, and several women start screaming as tension mounts, reports Shaheen.

8:45 Welcome to our live coverage of day one of Egypt's 2014 presidential election. The vote will bring to the country's top post either former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi or the only other candidate, presidential elections veteran and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.

Polling stations open at 9am across Egypt and should be open for 12 hours – with possible extensions depending on turnout. They will also be open all day tomorrow. Egypt's expat vote, held last week, saw El-Sisi secure a landslide win, gaining 94.5 percent of the vote.

Before a campaign blackout was imposed on Saturday and Sunday, in accordance with Egyptian law, El-Sisi urged Egyptians to take to the polls, calling for at least 40 million (of 54 million registered voters) to cast their ballots.

A little over 26 million Egyptians cast their votes in the runoff presidential poll in 2012 which brought Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi to power, while over 20 million Egyptians took part in a constitutional referendum in January that saw an amended charter approved by 98.1 percent of voters.

Police and army forces have been deployed to secure the presidential vote amid promises by officials guaranteeing the safety of the election. In comparison to the 2012 poll, however, the security situation has worsened. Since the ouster of Morsi in July and a bloody dispersal of a Brotherhood sit-in a month later, militant attacks against army and police forces have become common. The Brotherhood – despite denying any connection to the attacks – is now designated a terrorist group. The group -- along with several other, non-Islamist political groups and parties -- is calling on voters to boycott the election.

The army has issued guidelines for voters, including instructions not to park vehicles at polling stations and to avoid bringing bags or belongings for security reasons.

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