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Egypt voters endure long lines at polls

Delays are met with determination as Egyptians vote in the first free elections since President Hosni Mubarak's fall. The vote pits Islamists against secularists.

November 29, 2011|By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

Three hours north in the coastal city of Alexandria, where the police killing of a blogger helped galvanize resentment against the Mubarak regime in the lead-up to January's uprising, Mutaz Attalla had problems figuring out how to mark his ballot.

"I expected to go in and see party affiliations or 'individual' next to names, but it was just a bunch of names and symbols," said the 31-year-old worker. "When I saw the candidates list, I had the same feeling as an exam at school — where you didn't study a chapter because you didn't think it you would be tested on it."

The first round of elections, which include races for a share of parliament seats, continues Tuesday. Second and third rounds will be held in December and January — about 50 million voters are eligible for all three phases. But a full democratic government won't be in place until a president is elected by the end of June.

Howaida Assal waited at a polling station not far from Tahrir Square.

"We have a new country and a new life," she said. "We have to express our opinion now."

When asked how long she would stand in line, she said: "Three, four hours. I've been waiting 30 years. I'll take a whole day, it's fine."

Special correspondents Glen Johnson in Alexandria and Matt Pearce in Cairo and Amro Hassan of The Times' Cairo bureau contributed to this report.

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