The Egyptian government proclaimed an official holiday on the second and final day of a two-day presidential election Tuesday, and extended voting hours to accomodate voters. Electoral officials offered no clues about turnout for the first day of voting.
Women wearing headscarves cheered and ululated as voters lined up outside a women's polling station in the Cairo working-class district of Imbaba. Many families took advantage of the official holiday to lounge around local polling stations, snacking on beans and falafel and listening to music.
Government offices, banks and the stock market were closed by government decree and the normally thick week-day traffic was absent from most major thoroughfares.
Music blared from loud-speakers at a polling station in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, as lines dwindled under the mid-day sun. Egyptian TV correspondents questioned if the heat had pushed some voters to stay home.
In the port city of Marsa Matrouh, voter Abdallah Abdel Latif insisted he and his friends decided to vote in order to fulfill the official "roadmap" towards a return to democracy, which former Defense Minister and presidential candidate Abdel Fattah el Sissi put forth last July after ousting the increasingly unpopular Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Abdel Latif pointed out the heat turned back many voters Monday, but it had cooled off slightly Tuesday and people were voting normally.
Egyptian TV showed an almost empty polling station in the city of Luxor, as a polling official fanned himself briskly. Suddenly, a woman in a strict Islamic robe arrived to vote, causing a shuffle. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is strong in Luxor, has called on its supporters to boycott the election.
At a polling station in the district of Manoufiya, north of Cairo, the local electoral head, Judge Wa'el Omran, said the vote was going smoothly and he anticipated no problems.
He said when the local polling station closed, all the workers and observers would open the sealed plastic ballot boxes to count the votes and send the results to the main electoral office.
Egypt's electoral commission chief Tarek Shibl says official results from the two day presidential election are to be be announced late Tuesday. He said few complaints of irregularities from voting Monday were reported.
Former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el Sissi, who is facing leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, is expected to win the election by a wide margin.