The polls opened Wednesday at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) in Egypt for the first presidential election since the fall of Hosni Mubarak some 15 months ago. Queues of voters reported at several polling stations before they opened in Cairo.
These stations will close their doors at 20:00 (1800 GMT). The first round of voting takes place Wednesday and Thursday. A runoff is scheduled for June 16 and 17 if one of the 12 candidates fails to gain a clear majority.
The main contenders are the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi, Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, the last Prime Minister under Mubarak Ahmad Shafiq, the former foreign minister and former head of the Arab League Amr Moussa and the Arab nationalist Hamdeen Sabbahi.
For several weeks, the candidates have crisscrossed the country trying to convince the 50 million voters in a climate of openness unimaginable not long ago.
The military junta in power since the fall of Hosni Mubarak urged Egyptians to vote en masse, promising a "100% transparent" vote and warned against any "violation". The elections of a new president are inclined to end a tumultuous period of transition, often punctuated by deadly violence. The army, a target of the wrath of pro-democracy activists who accuse it of mishandling the transition and to have suppressed human rights, has promised to hand over power before the end of June, once there is an elected new head of state.