EU's Ashton 'encouraged' by democratic Egypt vote
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday hailed Egypt's presidential vote as "a major step forward in Egypt's democratic transition."
"For the first time in history the Egyptian people have had the opportunity to choose their president in a real and competitive election," said a statement from her office.
Ashton was "greatly encouraged by early reports from international witnesses and experts," it added. "Millions of citizens stood in line to cast their votes and decide their future in a peaceful and orderly manner.
"We must of course wait for the process to be completed, and counting is underway now. But so far it looks as if voters have been able to express their preferences in a democratic and effective way."
Egypt looks set for a run-off presidential vote between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, according to tallies by the Islamist group.
The Brotherhood said its candidate was leading the race, with 90 percent of the votes counted, ahead of Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in Egypt's 2011 uprising.
Results of the two-day poll are expected from Sunday. If the initial results hold, the two candidates will go to a second round run-off vote on June 16 and 17.
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