Egyptians cast their votes amid security and fraud concerns

Egyptians are voting in the first round of multi-stage parliamentary elections which are due to go on until March. While the military government is portraying the poll as a solution to the crisis, sentiment on the streets is quite the opposite.

Voters stood in long lines outside some polling stations in Cairo well before they opened at 8 am local time, a rare sign of interest in political participation after decades of apathy. Medics are standing by and security has been tightened for Egypt’s first parliamentary election since the revolution which toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.

This is just the first round out of five in the parliamentary elections. If the vote is deemed valid, a new parliament will be formed sometime in March. The first three stages will elect members of the lower house of parliament, known as the People's Assembly; the final two are for the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament.

Bothaina Kamel, the country's only female candidate for the presidency, expects the vote to be void due to fraud but warns the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – SCAF – that the election will be closely monitored.

“We, as a movement, we are watching you. We will monitor the election just to collect the mistakes and the fraud. We have a long, long way to go for democracy,” she told RT.

RT’s Anissa Naouai, who is in Cairo, reports the atmosphere at the polls is both tense and festive. A lot of people are voting for the first time in their lives. There is excitement in the air – some people see it as the first step on Egypt’s road to “democracy”.

However, with the people's demands for the military government to step aside still unanswered, there is growing skepticism as to whether the vote will be fair and democratic. Some Egyptians are bracing for the worst.

They feel the political parties on the ballot do not represent the people – and even more so, their revolution. One of the most commonly-heard comments on Tahrir Square is that the people running the country are no different from Mubarak’s crowd.Unfortunately for the protesters, they are believed to be very much in control of this vote.

The party likely to win the greatest number of seats is the Freedom and Justice Party set up by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, considered a terrorist-affiliated organization in some countries, remains highly popular in Egypt, where it has long pushed a pro-democracy line. Known for its tight organization and commitment to Islamic reforms, it is also suspected in some quarters of wheeling and dealing with the ruling military council.

Lawrence Freeman from Executive Intelligence Review magazine noted that Egyptian uprising is a real revolution that started “in people’s minds and hearts.”

I don’t think it going to be suppressed,” he told RT.

Young people who want a future “rebelled against the policies of Mubarak who was basically carrying out the policies of the IMF and the West,” Freeman said.

And they are not going to accept the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is now going to be in control of the situation. And nor they are going to accept the fact that the military is going to be in control of the situation.”

The expert also stressed that Egypt gets no economic aid from the West despite US political involvement in the region.