An Egyptian voter makes a gesture of victory at a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, on May 26, 2014. Egypt held presidential election on Monday. (Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue)
CAIRO, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian voters cast their ballots on Monday and Tuesday across the country in the first presidential elections following the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
Ex-military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster, is poised to score an easy win. His only rival in the race is leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahy, who finished third in the 2012 presidential elections.
Polling stations opened on Monday at nine a.m. local time (0600 GMT) to more than 53 million eligible voters at nearly 11,000 polling centers across 27 provinces in Egypt, with the participation of more than 15,000 judges to supervise the electoral process.
Sisi has enjoyed an overwhelming popularity since he removed Morsi last July after mass protests against the latter's one-year rule. The former military chief won 94.5 percent of the votes cast by over 300,000 overseas Egyptians in 124 countries last week.
"I voted for stability, security, which are crucial for economic recovery," said 47-year-old Mohamed Attiya, manager of a tourist company, who said he gave his vote to Sisi at a polling station in western Cairo.
Gamila Mounir, a 33-year-old engineer, said she voted for Sabahy because "we need a civil country and we no longer need military rule." "Egyptians demand freedom and Sisi will be reproduction of the autocratic rule of longtime former President Hosni Mubarak," she said.
Egyptians hope the new president would help restore security and stability in the turmoil-stricken country that saw the ouster of two presidents over the past three years.
The balloting is supervised by monitors from the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League.
"The world is watching how Egyptians are writing down their own history and their future," Sisi said while casting his ballot at a polling station in northeast neighborhood of Heliopolis, Cairo.
Leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahy said he expects a higher turnout later on and invited all Egyptians to participate " effectively" in the polls.
"We hope this step will be a basis for the establishment of a democratic structure in Egypt," Sabahy told Xinhua while standing at a queue with other citizens to cast his vote at a polling station in Giza's Agouza town.
Top Egyptian officials, such as interim President Adli Mansour and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, also voted in the election that is considered as another key step of the post-Morsi future roadmap after the newly-approved constitution.
"If the turnout remains high, the government may extend the two- day election for a third day," the prime minister told Xinhua while casting his vote in Cairo's southern Maadi district.
Official results are expected on June 5.
More than 432,000 army and police personnel are deployed across Egypt to ensure security amid reports of bombings and protests.
In the Upper Egypt province of Minya, Morsi's supporters protested in the village of Delga against the army-backed interim government, brandishing banners that read "Boycott This Absurdity. " Unidentified militants reportedly set a state TV vehicle on fire also in Minya.
Meanwhile, bomb squads defused six homemade bombs in four provinces on the first day of the two-day polls, according to state-run Ahram news website.
Three bombs were defused outside polling stations in Giza province near the capital Cairo, two outside a polling station in Daqahliya province and one near a railway station in the Nile Delta's Kafr El-Sheikh province.
Further, a bomb exploded outside a polling station in Fayoum province, some 85 km south of Cairo, causing no casualties.
Pro-Morsi protesters held various anti-election marches in a number of provinces including Giza, Beheira and Sharqiya, but the security forces managed to contain the situation.
Since Morsi's ouster by the military last July, his supporters have been facing a massive security crackdown that has left over 1, 000 people killed and thousands detained. The security also jailed many youth activists for staging anti-government protests.
Although a lot of Egyptians take Sisi for granted as the coming president, a pro-Morsi alliance led by the currently-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group, as well as some youth movements, announced they would boycott the polls.
In pictures: Presidential candidate casts ballot at polling station in Egypt
News Analysis: Egypt hopes for future stability following presidential polls
CAIRO, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Egypt pins hope on the late-May presidential polls and the election of a new president to help restore security and stability for the turmoil-stricken country.
Dire need for security and stability after three chaotic years that saw the ouster of two presidents is expected to motivate a lot of Egyptians to vote for strongman ex-military chief Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi as president. Full Story