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Egyptians seek 'superman' for president

CAIRO--Egyptians say they want their next leader to be honorable, smart, a knight, a man with a heart, a military man, a religious man, one who goes down and meets with the people. What they are really looking for is a superman.

Egypt's next president is facing an incredibly tall order of problems, from a tumbling economy and a beat-up security force to decrepit schools and hospitals that can't even provide enough incubators for premature babies.

Turning out in large numbers to vote for the first time in free and competitive presidential elections, a deeply engaged population has a lot of expectations from the leader that will replace the longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, whom they ousted in a popular uprising last year.

“We want a flawless president. We want him strong, just, respectable, clean, someone who feels for the poor. We basically want a superman,” said Heba el-Sayed, a 42-year old teacher who was asking her colleagues outside a polling station in the popular neighborhood of Sayeda Zeinab who they voted for.

Egyptians have never had the chance to pick a leader. Mubarak, who was often derisively labeled as “pharaoh” by Egyptians, came to power in 1981 after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat at the hands of Islamic militants, mostly because he signed a peace treaty with Israel. He was re-elected multiple time after that, mainly in yes-or-no referendums in which he was the only candidate.

The pent-up anger that exploded against Mubarak's reign on Jan. 25, 2011 built up over years because of festering corruption, which created a tight ruling clique around his family and cronies. It left a twisted economic development, that soared in terms of economic development indicators, but was unevenly distributed — leaving vast sections of the population — up to 40 percent — hovering near or fallen far below the poverty line.

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In this Wednesday, May 23 photo, an Egyptian man holds a ballot paper with names of the 13 presidential candidates inside a polling station, in Alexandria, Egypt. In a wide-open race that will define the nation's future political course, Egyptian voted Thursday on the second day of a landmark presidential election that will produce a successor to longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak.(AP)

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