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Egyptians keep voting as military leaders tout high turnout

CAIRO — Egyptians thronged the polls for a second day Tuesday to cast their votes in the first round of historic elections.

The staggered parliamentary ballot, which will continue across the country until March, has so far been relatively calm — a welcome development for a nation with a history of vote-rigging and violence under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities said they believe turnout could exceed 70 percent in the nine provinces, out of 27, that voted Monday and Tuesday in the first post-Mubarak poll.

Partial results are expected to start trickling in today, according to Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the judicial electoral commission. The elections followed a week of unrest and a crackdown by security forces on protesters demanding an immediate transfer of power from the interim military rulers to a civilian body. At least 42 people were killed.

The embattled military chiefs pointed to the high turnout as a sign that the protesters camped in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the winter uprising that toppled Mubarak's government, and those demonstrating elsewhere do not represent most Egyptians.

Gen. Ismail Atman told the independent daily al-Shorouk that the elections showed the insignificance of the protesters' demands for an end to military rule, Reuters reported.

In Tahrir Square on Tuesday, the masses that once protested there had dissipated to just a few thousand. Many activists appeared disillusioned, with some describing the elections as bittersweet. Omar Robert Hamilton, 27, said he had planned to boycott the elections but ended up voting Monday. Even if the election is a "sham," he said, it's better to participate than to be shut out.

Pressure on Syria: Regional pressure mounted against President Bashar Assad's regime on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia urged its citizens to leave Syria, and Turkey said it could use Iraq as an alternative trade route. That would cut out Syria entirely as it faces broad economic sanctions over its deadly crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising.

Gadhafi daughter: Moammar Gadhafi's daughter, Aisha Gadhafi, urged Libyans on Tuesday to overthrow their new rulers, possibly violating the terms of her exile in Algeria. In an audio message broadcast on Syria's al-Rai television station, she called for a revolt against the men who overthrew her father.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Egyptians keep voting as military leaders tout high turnout 11/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:00pm]
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