Heated Egyptian presidential campaign comes to an end
Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election campaign officially ended on Sunday after a heated campaign season marking the first of its kind in Egypt's history. On Wednesday, Egyptians will go to election polls to choose from 10 candidates in the race, including incumbent Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
In the past, Egyptians had only been asked to vote "yes" or "no" in public referendums for the incumbent candidate. Mubarak has won previous reelection in such referendums by more than 90% of all votes, and served as Egypt's leader for 24 years in four consecutive terms, according to News24.
In February 2005, Egyptian authorities decided to allow for multi-national elections under significant international and domestic pressure.
Though most do not view Mubarak's nine challengers as having the voter strength to replace him, many feel that the new process will undoubtedly contribute to the democratization of Egyptian politics.
In the absence of candidates from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak's main opposition the country, Ayman Nour, a liberal parliament member and lawyer, stands out as one of the main challengers to Mubarak.
Another main challenger to Mubarak, Wafd Party leader Noaman Gomaa, expressed doubt that the three-week election campaign was long enough to reasonably introduce challengers to Mubarak in the new system.
Gomaa however praised the coverage he received from state-owned media, though he accused supporters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party or tearing down his "humble posters".
Mubarak slammed his rivals' platforms as "hollow slogans".
Despite the optimism of the new process, many were left disappointed as announcements were made that despite efforts, no elections monitors would be allowed into polling stations during actual elections.
An earlier attempt by monitoring proponents to introduce international observers was turned down by Egyptian officials, who said that such move would infringe on Egypt sovereignty.
Many Egyptians as well as officials in the United States continue to feel that Mubarak remains the best guarantee for stability in Egypt, despite bureaucracy which has grown in Egypt significantly, along with the gap between the rich and poor.
Mubarak is the second longest-serving ruler in the region after Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.