Egyptians vote in test of shift to democracy

An estimated 45 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in what is widely viewed as the country's first free election in decades.

Today, thousands of Egyptians are lining up to vote – many for the first time – on constitutional amendments sponsored by the ruling military. The nationwide referendum is the first major test of the country’s transition to democracy after a popular uprising forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down and hand power to the military on Feb. 11.

The referendum asks Egyptians to vote “yes” or “no” to approve measures, including term limits for presidents and judicial oversight of voting. They are aimed at paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Preliminary results will be announced tomorrow. If they vote yes, parliamentary and presidential elections could take place later this year.

The vote promises to be the freest in Egypt since the 1952 ouster of the monarchy and the end of a multiparty democracy that functioned under British colonial rule. Hopefully amendments will help speed up transition to civilian rule.

Inserted photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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