Relive day 1 of Egypt's presidential runoffs (Part 1)

Ahram Online , Saturday 16 Jun 2012

Polls opened Saturday in Egypt's divisive presidential runoff elections. Take a look back at how Ahram Online reported the opening hours of the final vote for the country's next head of state

A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Cairo (Reuters)

For coverage of the second half of the day, click here.

17:11 We're back on the streets of Cairo, in the impoverished district of Imbaba, where Al-Ismailia Preparatory school has seen a steady stream of voters.

Soad Mohamed, 45, a street greengrocer working outside the polling station is making the most of the new wave of customers. Mohamed tells Ahram Online reporter that she does not know who she will vote for as both presidential finalists are "bad." "I might vote for Morsi because he will at least treat us in a way that will please God," she adds.  

57-year-old Shawqia. a reluctant Morsi supporter, agrees with Mohamed adding that Shafiq has no popularity in Imbaba. She is voting for the Brotherhood contender because, she says, it is clear he is not the "state's man" and she "will not follow the government." However, she thinks both options are hopeless: "We wanted someone like us, from us, we wanted someone like Sabbahi" she said.  

Close by, at the Industrial Girls School polling station, turnout was sluggish. Ahram Online reporter spoke to Judge Mohamed El-Qady manning the station, who confirmed that only 600 of 5000 registered voters had showed up so far. He described strange voter behaviour, which might point to "mobilisation", as at some points the polling station was suddenly crowded and then at other points voters disappeared.

“From my experience I believe voters aged between 20 and 35 years old are more politically aware than older who can be deceived easily,” Judge El-Qady said.
The judge blamed the electoral commission for not better controlling campaigns influencing voters outside the stations.

17:06 One of Egypt's newest English-language news sites, The Egypt Monocle, which was formed by editors and journalists from the now shutdown Daily News Egypt, has a team in Menoufiya Governorate tweeting:

The Egypt Monocle tweets: In Menufiya, Shafik campaigners accuse MB affiliated observers of influencing and intimidating voters inside polling stations

Team member Farah Saafan tweeted: Niqabi woman tried 2 vote w/out showing judge her face,he refused,she gave him"would u like this 2 be done 2 ur sister" lecture! Didn't work.

While Sarah Sirgany tweeted: Menoufiya is NDP and Shafik land, very different from my experience in first round when I went to suez and fayoum.

16:42 FJP coordinator Khaled Khazaz informs us that there were violations videoed in Alexandria, including electoral bribes and the presence of military personnel names in the electoral register.  

In Greater Cairo, Ahram Online's correspondent in Sheikh Zayed, speaks to Judge Mahmoud Omar, who is presiding over one of the polling stations in the neighbourhood. He says that about 900 out of the 4000 registered voters have already cast their ballot. He believes the evening will bring larger crowds.

16:32 Ahram Online's Ahmed Feteha sent us the following update from the SPEC's headquarters in Heliopolis, Cairo:

A 57-year-old retired military officer came to the headquarters to file a complaint against the SPEC after discovering, upon his arrival, that at his designated polling station his name was excluded from the list of registered voters. Fathi Abul-Ezz, who retired seven years ago, says he was surprised to find that his name had been removed from the list, especially as he was able to vote normally during the first round and the last year's parliamentary elections.

Abul-Ezz was infuriated by what he described as "a form of unfairness against retired army officials, which comprises 200 to 300 thousand, that they be prohibited from voting."

"I have been actively participating in political life since my retirement and have voted in every election ever since. I sacrificed everything for my country and now I find myself stripped of my voting right," he added.

16:24 It's Elections 2012 here in Egypt and even one's writing implements are not safe from prying foreign hands. Judges in a number of polling stations around Egypt are preventing voters from using their own pens to mark their ballots, providing them with pens inside polling stations instead.

Hatem Bagatou, the secretary-general of SPEC, told CBC TV channel earlier that the electoral commision received information of a shipment of pens arriving in Egypt whose ink disappears within three hours.

"A number of people have been detained in Alexandria for distributing theses pens and they are currently being questioned," said Bagatou.

"All voters are now required to use the pens provided by judges in polling stations, especially that SPEC brought 50,000 pens for this purpose."

16:04 Amr Ragei, a judge in one of the polling stations in Al-Haram, told Ahram Online's Yasmine Wali that 1600 out of 4600 eligible voters had so far cast their ballots, describing the turnout as "very high, compared to the first round." He also said that no violations have been reported.

15:51 Three out of four voters Ahram Online's Marwa Hussein spoke to in downtown Cairo's Talaat Harb School said they would vote for Ahmed Shafiq.

Sayed Ghoneim, 50, accountant with the United Bank

"I voted for Ahmed Shafiq because he is better than the other candidate. My whole family is also supporting Shafiq. Morsi, on the other hand, will get votes because Brotherhood members are compelled to vote. In any regard, I expect Shafiq to win because the Muslim Brotherhood have tarnished their image with their policies. I believe they could be worse than Mubarak."

Rasha Saadallah, 40, lawyer's secretary

"I voted for Shafiq in the first round and I will vote for him again. My whole family will choose him in the run-off. But I am worried that the Brotherhood may cause trouble if Shafiq wins; they want all the power in their hands. Shafiq will win though."

Hisham Qandil, 40, company owner

"I voted for Morsi in both rounds. However, I think the military will not let anybody outside of their ranks hold such authority. A lot of people will vote in the second round because they feel the military council is trying to monopolise power. If Morsi wins, there might be some protests, but not as strong as if Shafiq wins, because a lot of people hate him."

Raouf Mayek, 20s, architect

"I voted for Shafiq in both rounds. I doubt the new president will enjoy full powers; he won't take decisions that negatively affect the country. Both of them will be careful because they have lots of opponents. I'm confident Shafiq will win."

15:46 The Centre of Andalusia, associated with the Egyptian Coalition of Elections Monitoring, state that violations committed by Shafiq's campaign are strongly reminiscent of those perpetrated by campaigners of the now defunct National Democratic Party prior to the 18-day uprising.

According to the centre's report on the Qalioubiya governorate north of Cairo, Shafiq's campaign members mobilised vehicles to transport voters to polling stations, distributed flyers and gave out meals to voters to coax them into voting for Shafiq.

"There were some violations committed by Morsi's campaign, but they are not comparable to those of Shafiq. Morsi's campaign violations were restricted to directing voters in front of the polling stations," the report adds.

15:37 Ahram Online's Yasmine Fathy, reporting from Almaza High School in Cairo's middle class suburb of Heliopolis, said that several women voters decided to leave and return in the evening due to the sun's unyielding rays.

Aliaa Mohamed said she hopes Morsi wins "because Shafiq will bring back the old regime, which killed too many people". However, she believes the elections will be rigged in Shafiq's favour.

Amal Hussein, a woman in her 40s, says she wants Shafiq because "he is strong and organised, whereas Morsi is weak and is merely a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood."

15:23 At Gadallah Language School in Al-Haram, which was visited by US Ambassador Ann Peterson and representatives from NGOs, Judge Mohamed Helmi spoke to Ahram Online about the elections, stating that he has not recorded any violations so far.

“Nearly 900 voters have cast their votes; the turnout is not high but I expect that there will be higher turnout than in the first stage later this afternoon,” Helmi told Ahram Online.

“This time voters are suspicious when it comes to the ballot papers, as the watermark stamp is not clear except in the booklet. You can only see it in the light,” Helmi added.

Ahram Online noticed that delegates of Shafiq and Morsi were inside polling stations, not outside.

At Sadat Primary School in Al-Haram, a low turnout seemed evident among middle class men and women. Overall turnout of women was low. Delegates of Shafiq and Morsi were again inside the polling station.

Judge Wafaa Ali told Ahram Online that nearly 600 had voted out of 5600 registered voters. “There are no violations so far recorded. The turnout is low, yet it may increase after sunset,” Ali said.

15:11 SPEC ordered an investigation into incidents of marked ballots found in the governorates of Cairo and Sharqiya fresh from the printing house.

The judge presiding over a polling station in Sharqiya stopped the voting process after finding that 24 ballots were already marked upon unwrapping them. The judge informed authorities and the public prosecution summoned printing house managers to investigate the incident.

Similar incidents also took place in a polling station in Cairo in the working class district of El-Moski.

15:03 Local and foreign journalists are reporting increased antagonism towards the media. Ahram Online journalist Marwa Hussein was forbidden from talking to people and taking photos from within a downtown Cairo polling station, despite having an official state pass to do so. Meanwhile, in the lower-middle class Sayeda Zeinab district, Ahram Online journalist Bel Trew reports:

"The military and the police outside the stations appear more jumpy than the first round – we certainly felt like they were keeping a closer eye on us. I was made to leave the area by the police whilst I was conducting interviews outside the polling station about people spoiling their votes, and eliminated candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh's Thursday comments that Egypt had just witnessed a "military coup".

I have also had reports from several fellow journalists saying they have been asked to leave, forbidden from photographing or that they themselves have been filmed – which did not happen in the first round.

Al-Jazeera Producer Evan Hill messaged me via Twitter saying an army officer filmed him in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour, while freelance documentary photographer Tara Todras-Whitehill said in a tweet:

'@jameshider and I were videotaped by the army for at least 10 mins while he chatted w voters in tagammu al khamis. ‪#egypreselex'"

14:53 These contentious elections have taken their share of victims. A 65-year-old man died on his way out of a polling station in the Upper Egypt governorate of Minya. Ahmed El-Shemny, the deceased, fell to the floor after casting his ballot. People found he was dead after rushing to assist him.

14:45 Ahly football player Mohamed Abu Treka, wore a t-shirt, emblazoned with the statement  "The day I give up your rights, I'll surely be dead" as he voted Morsi. The t-shirt is part of a memorial campaign initiated by Al-Ahly Official Stores for Port Said martyrs. However, there might be locker room scuffles after fellow Red Devils player Emad Moteab reportedly voted Shafiq.

The photo was posted on a popular Facebook page known for its sarcastic posts, Asahbi.

Abu Treka


14:36 The summer heat seems to be on everybody's mind, as voter turnout in Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena remains low due to extremely hot weather conditions. Our reporter on the ground, however, said the number of voters is expected to increase later in the day as the heat decreases.

He said several heated verbal exchanges erupted between supporters of Shafiq and Morsi but, thankfully, did not develop into a full-blown altercation.

In the first round, Morsi took Qena, beating off military man Shafiq.

14:27 SCAF member Major General Mohsen El-Fangary toured a group of polling stations in the delta governorate of Gharbiya earlier on Saturday, along with a delegation of the governorate's top police and military officials.

14:24 Shafiq's campaign calls on voters not to wait until Sunday to cast their ballots, apparently hoping that summertime won't turn to winter for Shafiq and his grand designs.

 "The turnout is low in many governorates due to hot weather conditions. Please don't wait, go and vote and take other people with you," the campaign said on its official Twitter account.

14:21 At the Amira Fawzya School polling station in Cairo's posher Maadi suburb, many elderly people lost patience with the long queues and decided to seek refuge from the sweltering heat.

The women polling stations in Lycee Horreya School were nearly empty, with a handful of elderly women in one of the four stations there.

Mohamed, a 30-year-old taxi driver, hopes Shafiq will win.

"The Muslim Brotherhood are liars. They showed that they will not be able to run the country. We need someone who can order the police back in the streets," he said, reflecting a common notion among Shafiq supporters that the ex-prime minister is the man to restore stability in the country.

14:12 The Brotherhood's FJP states on their official Facebook page that seven members from the April 6 Youth Movement were arrested while standing outside a polling station in Cairo's traffic-chocked suburb of Nasr City.

They held pictures of the uprising's victims aloft and were campaigning against Shafiq when they were detained, the FJP added on Facebook.

"A group of the party's lawyers went to provide legal support to the detained," the FJP added.

April 6 Youth Movement announced last week that it would support Morsi, the Brotherhood's candidate, to prevent the Mubarak-era premier from becoming the first post-uprising president.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, a lawyer from the No Military Trials for Civilians campaign, tells us, however, that only four members from the youth movement were arrested.

13:42 Electioneering violations appear to be perpetrated by supporters of both camps in Tanta, as some taxi drivers were distributing flyers with the message, "Do not betray the martyrs' blood."

The flyer also included quotes from novelist and activist Alaa Al-Aswany, TV presenters Mahmoud Saad and Wael El-Ibrashy, and well-known actor Khaled Saleh, who all call on people not to vote for Shafiq.

13:37 The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the Delta city Tanta, in Gharbiya Governorate, claimed that a group of women outside a polling station were giving out money to female voters and telling them to vote for  Shafiq, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language website.

The party also said it witnessed another violation in a nearby polling station. "The voting ballots were not stamped, and yet the judge presiding over the polling station insisted on continuing the voting process," it said.

13:35 More Tweets for those eager eyes:

Mahmoud Salem, a well-known blogger, tweets: I am not spoling my vote to protest the legitimacy of the elections but simply because I do not like the candidates and I do not want my vote to be stolen. That's all. (translated from Arabic)

Shahira Amin, a famous television host who resigned from state TV early into the 18-day uprising, tweets: sixty years of military dictatorship and counting.... 

Amr Waked, actor and activist, tweets: #Boycotters, #Ballot spoilers, #Carrying on (translated from Arabic)

Journalist khaled El-Baramawy tweets: Do you know that the next Egyptian president will be partially unemployed until a new parliament is elected in about 4 to 6 months, in which time the SCAF will pamper him with a prickly pear

13:14 In Suez, turnout is moderate, but Ahram reporter in the city, Sayed Noun, says numbers have started to increase, with more expected later on as the day's heat subsides. Noun says turnout is high in the governorate's rural areas, with a noticeably high turnout among women.

13:03 In its first report today, the Egyptian Coalition for Elections Monitoring notes a higher turn out in today's start to the runoffs than in the first round.

"The higher turn out in the first hours despite high temperatures means that the turn out in this round might be higher than the first one," says Hafez Abu-Saida, the general coordinator of the coalition that includes 1600 monitors representing 128 NGOs.

12:57 Morsi's campaign said in its preliminary monitoring report that its observers in Alexandria saw a number of buses entering a Central Security establishment and coming out packed with plain-clothed men that observers assumed were soldiers.

The campaign suspects "it is an attempt to mobilise soldiers to vote for Shafiq, even though voting by police and military personnel is illegal."

The campaign also reported procedural violations in a number of polling stations in several governorates and denounced the SPEC for postponing the official announcement of expatriate voting results, in which Morsi reportedly secured an overwhelming victory.

12:43 A photo from earlier today, depicting Coptic priests queing in the Ezbekiya district of Cairo:

Coptic priests vote

12:28 A quick taste of the Twitter-verse, where humour and sarcasm abound:


Mahmoud El-Lozy, a drama professor at the American University in Cairo, tweeted earlier: There will soon be general elections in Egypt, and everybody knows which general is going to be elected...

sherief gaber tweets: Can we please get more pictures of queues of veiled women & people holding up their stained fingers? Less steak, more sizzle people.


Farah Mounier tweets: ahmed shafik doesn't stand in line in elections scared to be hit once again but morsy stands in line because he's sure of his self.

12:25 United States Ambassador to Egypt Ann Peterson visits several polling stations in Omraneya, Giza, before heading to other nearby stations to monitor the runoff vote.

12:23 SPEC head Farouq Sultan will hold a news conference at 8pm, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA states.

12:17 According to Ahram Online reporter Israa Qandil, hundreds storm the Ten Thousands School polling station in Abul-Matameer in the Lower Egyptian governorate of Beheira, protesting the slow pace of the voting process. Police and military forces have managed to disperse them.

12:14 According to the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), pollings stations will remain open until 9pm because several stations opened late, making no mention of voter turnout.

12:05 At the Hoda Shaarawi School polling station in the industrial Cairo district of Helwan, elderly female voters complained that they had to wait a long time before casting their ballots.

The school and the surrounding neighbourhood are plastered with Mohamed Morsi's posters. Shafiq posters, however, are nowhere to be seen.

In the Sheikh Zayed Secondary School, Fatima Ibrahim, Morsi's campaign representative, is sitting in front of the polling station alongside colleagues to assist voters.

"There have been no violations. The turnout is low due to the hot weather, but I expect that people will begin to show up in bigger numbers in the afternoon," she tells our correspondent Yasmine Wali.

She sent us photo of the queue:

Sheikh Zayed Secondary School

11:56 The polls will remain open until 9pm due to high turnout in stations across the country.

11:52 In a quick look at Greater Cairo, Salafist men are markedly present at the Sheikh Zayed Secondary School polling station in the affluent Giza suburb of the same name. Voters there are mostly Islamists, including a number of women who are wearing full-face veils of niqab.

The queues are shorter than those in the first round. The men's queue is larger than the women's, which includes only five so far.

Germine, a 24-year-old interior designer, and Mustafa, a 19-year-old student at British University, are both volunteers in Shafiq's campaign.

They said they don't want to be part of the official campaign, declining to take money because "we are doing this for the country's benefit."

In the delta Gharbiya Governorate, the turnout in Qasr Al-Baghdad village – home to eliminated presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh – is very low, according to one of the judges there.

"Only 10 people have voted so far," he tells Ahram Online.

11:41 A congress delegation headed by Senator David Dreier will monitor the runoff vote on Saturday and Sunday.

The delegation will oversee the voting process at Benha University in the industrial district of Shubra Al-Kheima in the Qalyoubiya governorate. There is a large influx of voters there, especially of male voters.

11:35 Ahram Online's Adel Mahmoud says Morsi has arrived at Sadat School in Zagazig, the capital of the delta governorate of Sharqiya, to cast his ballot. He is queuing with a heavy security entourage.

The Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, voted in the Governorate of Beni Suef, but declined to speak to any media. He, however, called on the Egyptian people "to take part in the runoff vote to ruin any attempts at vote rigging," according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language website. 

11:09 According to Egyptian state news agency MENA, Shafiq has cast his ballot in New Cairo, entering and exiting the polling station from a back door in a seeming attempt to avoid being assailed yet again by flying shoes.

Here's a Reuters shot of the first round incident in which a protester threw a slipper at the former premier and presidential contender Shafiq:

Ahmed Shafiq

11:06 Members of the Muqataoun (Boycotting) campaign are distributing flyers and posters in several metro stations across the capital to spread the idea of boycotting the runoff vote. They object to what they consider "a choice between a military state and religious state."

10:50 An eye witness in New Cairo, where presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq will cast his vote, confirms to Ahram Online that police are tightening security measures in the area. The ex-prime minister is expected to cast his ballot in the next few hours.

"The police officers ordered photographers and journalists either to enter the station or leave," the witness, who refused to be named, says.

10:42 Every security precaution seems to have been taken ahead of Shafiq's arrival to the New Cairo polling station, where he will be casting his ballot.

Abigail Hauslohner tweets: 6 hulking riot cop trucks, police cars, a cordon, soldiers (& clusters of ppl in designer shades): the scene outsider Shafik's polling sta

Calling for a boycott of the presidential elections, British-Egyptian filmmaker and actor Khalid Abdalla tweets:

I want to know how many people plan to vote today, then just can't do it. Conscience is a sensitive guide & it's worth protecting. #مقاطعون

10:16 Here is a pick of voters' views in the industrial district of Helwan in Cairo, as they get ready to cast their ballot at Mohamed Farid Sarhan School polling station:

Mustafa, who has been working as a butcher for 17 years, says has had enough of the revolution and its aftermath.

"I would vote for Mubarak if he was running.  I don't like all the mess surrounding the revolution." I think we can safely say Shafiq is Mustafa's man.

Omar, who obtained a diploma in mechanics, is boycotting. He believes it's worthless to vote in the runoff.

"The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ruling military council caused all this. They made people yearn to revive the days of Mubarak. Neither candidate is suitable for the presidency, and the coming president, even if he is a saint, won't be able to do much," a disappointed Omar says.

Ahmed, who runs a stall selling shoes next to Helwan metro station, intends to vote for Mohamed Morsi.

"This is for the sake of the martyrs who died in Tahrir Square. Maybe we can also see some change (if Morsi becomes president). I'm worried Shafiq might not allow me to continue making money from the illegal stall I've set up to avoid unemployment," he adds.

10:05 Former Presidential candidate Amr Moussa casts his vote at Fatma Anan School polling school in upscale district New Cairo. He declined to speak to media, only saying that he "supports a civil state" in an apparent swipe at the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi.

9:35 Saturday's and Sunday's runoff will be held under questionable security conditions after Egyptian military police were authorised to arrest civilians, a right previously reserved for police officers alone, following a justice ministry decree on Wednesday.

The military police were deployed in several Cairo districts, searching microbuses and cabs, just weeks after the highly controversial state of emergency – exploited by Mubarak for 30 years to crush dissent – was lifted.

Military-intelligence officers were also given the right to detain civilians and refer them to military tribunals under Wednesday's decree.

The decree was highly criticised by human rights groups and political activists, who accused Egypt's ruling military of trying to revive the state of emergency, albeit in a new shape.

9:13 Ahram Online's Yasmine Wali, reporting from 6 October City, has sent us the following update:

"Most of the women standing in queues now belong to the middle class. Very few upper-class citizens are present. Elderly women are holding umbrellas due to the hot and humid weather. Others are wearing hats or holding newspapers up to protect their heads."

8:49 A quick look back at the results and turnout of the first round: More than 23 million Egyptians, out of the country's 51 million eligible voters, took part in the round one with the turnout reaching 46.42 per cent. Brotherhood contender Morsi topped the poll with 24.3 per cent of the votes followed by ex-premier Shafiq with 23.3 per cent.

Around 310,000 Egyptians abroad out of 586,000 eligible voters cast their ballots in the runoff. Although no official results were announced, the Brotherhood's Morsi has reportedly swept to victory in the vote for expats. In the first round of elections, Shafiq claimed the vote in three countries: the US, Holland and Israel while Morsi swept the Gulf.

8:35 Yasmine Walli, reporting from the Nahdet Misr School polling station in the satellite district of 6 October City, tells us that at this women-only station "the queues are shorter than they were in the first round at this point in the day. Graffiti calling for the people not to elect former regime icon Shafiq is removed by police officers to the delight of many voters.

Reham Adel, an air hostess in Egypt Air gave her vote to Shafiq."He is a better choice at this stage for the country; we cannot leave it to the Islamists," Adel argues. 

A veiled lady in her 30s who refuses to share her name tells us she is going to vote for Shafiq because she does not wish to see the country split like Sudan or turn into Tunisia, where Islamist group Ennahda now control the cabinet and constituent assembly. Egyptian television stations across the board have been referring to Tunisia and certain Salafist groups, who recently raided cafes and an art exhibition and clashed with security forces in an apparent bid to frighten voters away from voting for Islamist contender Morsi.

 "What did the revolution do?" she asks, "Did it increase our salary? Beggars increased in number however."

8:16 Agence French-Presse (AFP) report:

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta late Friday called Egypt's military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to emphasize the need to move forward with Egypt's political transition, the Pentagon said.

Panetta called Tantawi "to discuss current events in Egypt, including the recent Supreme Constitutional Court ruling on the Egyptian parliament," the Pentagon said in a statement.

"Secretary Panetta highlighted the need to move forward expeditiously with Egypt's political transition, including conducting new legislative elections as soon as possible.

Tantawi in turn "reiterated" the commitment of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces "to hold free and fair presidential elections as scheduled and to transfer power to a democratically elected government by July 1," the statement read.

The two men "agreed on the importance of the US-Egyptian strategic relationship," while Panetta underscored "the need to ensure a full and peaceful transition to democracy."

Panetta also said "he looks forward to working with Egypt's newly elected government to advance our mutual interests," the statement read.

Earlier in the day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a full transfer of power to elected civilians in Egypt.

"There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people," she told reporters in Washington.

The State Department said separately it was "troubled" by the court ruling ordering parliament annulled and was studying its implications.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation in Egypt," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"If in fact the conclusion is that there need to be new parliamentary elections our hope is that they can happen swiftly and that they reflect the will of the Egyptian people," Nuland said.

Egypt on Saturday starts a two-day second round presidential vote pitting former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi.

The voting follows two controversial court rulings Thursday allowing Shafiq's candidacy to proceed despite his role in the old regime, and invalidating Egypt's elected parliament.

8:00 Polls open across Egypt as the second round of Egypt's hotly contested presidential runoffs gets underway.

Good morning. Elections day has arrived in Egypt yet again in the now almost concluded transitional period that began after the 18-day uprising resulted in the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year. Egyptians will take to the ballot box over the next two days to choose a successor for the toppled strongman in the second round of presidential elections that sees Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi pitted against former regime member Ahmed Shafiq.

Ahead of the start of polling, Cairo's streets are quite and traffic is light this Saturday morning. Radio stations are broadcasting the usual nationalistic tunes and small queues are beginning to form outside polling stations in anticipation of the 8am start to voting.

Two days previously, on Thursday, Egypt's High Constitutional Court verdict saw Parliament dissolved and the Political Disenfranchisement Law, aimed at barring Mubarak-era ministers like Shafiq from holding government offices, declared unconstitutional allowing the former prime minister to run.

The Constituent Assembly, tasked with authoring Egypt’s constitution, is likely to be disbanded, meaning that Egypt’s president will be elected without a parliament or a constitution.

Thursday’s ruling sparked uproar across the political spectrum, with eliminated presidential contender Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh calling the decision a “military coup” and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei declaring the country’s revolution as in “intensive care.”

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