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News Link • Voting and Elections

With Revolution’s Fate at Stake, Egypt Votes on President

• By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM
Egyptians lined up Saturday to pick their first president since Hosni Mubarak even as a last-minute grab for power by the ruling generals called the whole exercise into doubt, raising questions about whether the vote would be the long-promised culmination of Egypt’s transition to democracy or an empty gesture amid the reconstitution of a military-backed autocracy. 
 
 Voters faced a stark choice between two faces of the past: Ahmed Shafik, a former Air Force general and Mubarak stalwart who promised to restore order and thwart the rise of an Islamist theocracy, or Mohamed Morsi, a veteran of the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood campaigning as a defender of the revolution against a return of the old order.

The ruling military council that took power after Mr. Mubarak’s ouster 16 months ago had pledged that this weekend’s two-day presidential runoff would be the final step in the transition to civilian government, the moment they would hand power to the first democratically elected leader in Egypt’s long history.

But the day before the vote, the generals shut down the democratically elected and Islamist-led Parliament, acting on a ruling rushed out by a court of Mubarak-appointed judges. They declared they would be the sole lawmakers, even after a new president is elected. And they began drawing up a new interim constitution that would define the power of the president whom voters were choosing on Saturday.

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