May 22 - Egyptians will go to the polls Wednesday for the first time in six decades for a presidential election whose outcome no one knows in advance. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Fishermen on the Mediterranean in Alexandria, Egypt. It's a tough way make a living, in a country where nearly half of all Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. On Wednesday, Egyptians will go to the polls for the first time in six decades for a presidential election whose outcome no one knows in advance. Many are looking for help. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN FISHERMAN, MOHAMED ABDEL MOHSEN, SAYING: "What I need from the next president is to take care of the people and to meet their essential needs, which we are lacking nowadays." Local surveys indicate that one in four Egyptians live below the poverty line. The nation is crippled by widespread illiteracy, lack of food and medical supplies and inadequate access to clean water. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN FISHERMAN, IBRAHIM MOHAMED, SAYING: "We need a good monthly pension. It should be raised so we have enough to live. We want cheap food prices. The excessive prices drive us mad, we are not able to survive." Twelve candidates are competing in the race for the presidency after the public uprising that put an end to Hosni Mubarak's autocratic regime in February last year. The first round takes place on May 23 and 24, with a possible run-off on June 16 and 17. About 50 million of Egypt's 82 million population are eligible to cast a vote. In Cairo, preparations are under way. Ballot boxes are delivered, as polling stations are set up. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, the top two vote-getters will fight a run-off in June. The army has pledged to hand power to the new president by July 1, and insists it is not siding with any candidate. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters