Voting is underway in Egypt's first presidential election since a popular uprising, last February toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
Considered by many to be the country's first free presidential poll in decades, the vote pits Islamists and secularists against men who served under Mubarak's rule.
Here in the capital Cairo, long queues form outside polling stations on the first day of the historic vote.
One voter is optimistic.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) AHEMED AZZAM SAYING:
"I am here to elect, for the first time, a President of the Republic. A president that will be good and righteous and to make this country wake up"
In Egypt's second city Alexandria, voters also turn out early amid tight security.
An official at one polling station says he's confident the election will be fair.
(SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) THE CHAIRMAN OF THE 'LAURAN SCHOOL POLL STATION' CHANCELLOR, AHMED FEKRY, SAYING:
"As you can see everything is well prepared for the electoral process, fair guarantees to all candidates are being provided by the higher commission foe the elections".
About 50 million people out of Egypt's population of 82 million are eligible to vote.
But with none of the 12 candidates expected to secure more than half the vote to win outright in the first round on Wednesday and Thursday, a run-off between the top two is likely in June.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who've overseen a transition marred by violence and political deadlock, are set to formally hand over power by July 1.
Travis Brecher, Reuters