Two candidates one backed by the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood while the other, a former air force general, are contesting for the office.
The biggest question facing the at least 50 million Egyptians eligible to cast ballots in the runoff is what happens after voters decide between Mohamed Morsi of the Justice and Freedom Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik.
Shafik and Morsi emerged from the first round of voting in May to advance to the runoff, in which Egyptian voters are to choose the country’s first democratically elected president.
The runoff election was prompted after a May election failed to produce a winner with a clear majority. Polling sites will be open Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) until 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).
Votes must be counted by Monday, with final results to be announced by Thursday.
The vote comes two days after a high court ruling that dissolved parliament and raised questions about whether the military will relinquish power.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — the country’s military rulers — formally dissolved parliament Friday, in line with Thursday’s ruling from the nation’s top court, which declared the legislative body invalid.
The military council claimed full legislative power after the High Constitutional Court ruled that the constitutional articles regulating parliamentary elections were invalid.
Gen. Hussein Tantawi, the head of supreme council and Egypt’s de facto ruler, met Friday in an emergency session with the council to discuss drafting a new constitution. The council is expected to issue its own interim constitutional charter.
While the court’s initial ruling prompted protests, Cairo streets remained relatively quiet compared with the popular demonstrations in February 2011 that brought down Mubarak’s regime.
The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission has approved licenses for 53 organizations to observe the elections, including at least three international groups — the U.S.-based Carter Center, the South Africa-based Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa and the Arab Network for Monitoring of Elections.
The election of a president without a parliament means that the winner will wield extraordinary power, dealing directly with the military rulers while a new constitution is written and until new parliamentary elections are held.