Egyptians vote in first ever contested presidential election

Egyptians voted in the country's first ever contested presidential election. The government has already named the ballot as a major democratic challenge, though longtime leader President Hosni Mubarak is certain to win.

Polls opened at 5 GMT across the country. At one polling station - a school in Cairo's Manial district - banners had been hung on the gate by government supporters proclaiming "Yes to Mubarak for the sake of prosperity." In the first half-hour of voting, only four young women showed up to vote. Yet there were no locks on the ballot boxes, so polling officials refused to allow any votes to be cast.

Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 24 years, is expected to easily win a fifth six-year term in the vote. But his government says the decision to allow competitors to run against him signals a move toward greater democracy.

Opponents, however, have dismissed claims of reform as a sham. Nine candidates are running against the 77-year-old Mubarak but only two are considered significant, the AP reports.

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