Egyptian voters say election means protests can now cease

Military takes credit for order at polls

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CAIRO — The second day of parliamentary elections here passed without incident Tuesday, with millions of Egyptians taking part in their country’s first clean voting in decades and Egypt’s military rulers taking credit for the relative calm and massive turnout.

Meanwhile, many voters said the protests in Tahrir Square, which launched Egypt’s revolution in January and resumed this month against the military rulers, now can cease if a democratically elected government represents the will of the people.

“The occupation in Tahrir needs to end and the protesters should go home to work or study,” said housewife Maha Hassan, 32, showing off her ink-stained finger to prove she had voted.

This was the first time Ms. Hassan had voted, she said, because she did not trust previous elections to be fair. “Now it’s time for the country to develop in a political arena and become a place with social justice and a good standard of living,” she said.

According to the Health Ministry, 42 people have died and more than 3,000 have been injured during six days of clashes that began Nov. 19 between security forces and Tahrir Square protesters.

The demonstrators have called for the immediate end of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ rule and the establishment of an interim civilian-led government. The military has refused.

The military rulers did not field any candidates in the parliamentary voting, which began Monday. But they did claim credit for the peaceful, orderly process, which could soften opposition to their rule.

“When we plan, we execute and, at the end, we succeed,” Maj. Gen. Ismail Etman, a member of the ruling military council, said in a television interview, the Associated Press reported.

Gen. Etman compared the elections to one of the Egyptian military’s proudest moments - when it battled Israeli forces across the Suez Canal in 1973. “The armed forces pulled off this election like they pulled off the crossing in 1973,” he said, the AP reported.

International election observers in Cairo and Alexandria said they reported no incidents of tampering or violence on Monday or Tuesday.

“No surprises here,” said one observer in Alexandria who wasn’t allowed to be named. “The Islamic and liberal parties are all out doing their thing, but it’s moving along smoothly.”

At many of the voting stations in Cairo, the security - military and police - looked bored.

Some voting stations reported a lack of ballots or the late arrival of monitoring judges.

The only election irregularity reported was the widespread violation of the no-campaigning on Election Day rule. Children and teenagers ran around Cairo handing out campaign fliers while cars and vans plastered with campaign posters drove around the city.

“These elections are completely different from anything we’ve had before,” Mohammed Farouk, 32, a taxi driver who was distributing fliers for the Salafist party, outside the Jodeiry elementary school in Salbiya, a working-class neighborhood in central Cairo.

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