Polling stations in Egypt opened on Monday, state television reported, in this Arab country's first parliamentary election since a popular uprising ended the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. There are some 40 million registered voters.
Egyptians in Cairo, Alexandria and other areas included in the first phase of the lower house election were allowed to vote from 8 a.m.. Polls close at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) but voters in this round can also vote on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Elections for the lower house are scheduled to take place in three stages, the last one of which is set for January 2012. Upper house elections will run between January and March and be followed by a presidential vote.
Hours before the vote started, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces called on Egyptians to vote and warned of "dire consequences" if the nation's political crisis continues, state-run Al-Masriya TV reported. "Please go and vote because we want a parliament that is well balanced from all the parties and groups. The elections will not be successful until everyone who has a right to vote participates. Egypt is at a critical crossroads. It either succeeds, or Egypt will face dire consequences," said Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.