Here's where things stand.
Associated Press / Seattle (WA) Times
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On Wednesday (May 23), Egypt began its first free presidential election since it came under dictatorship 60 years ago. The winner will succeed Hosni Mubarak, one of four rulers toppled in the uprisings that began 18 months ago across the Middle East and became known as the Arab Spring. But replacing dictatorships with democracy is proving much harder. Here's where things stand:
The first Arab country to throw off its ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011, Tunisia has also had the smoothest transition. Elections in October resulted in an interim coalition led by the election-winning Islamist Ennahda Party in a coalition with two liberal parties. Ennahda has taken a moderate track in this country that has a strong secular heritage, refraining from seeking to base the new constitution on Islamic law. But secular Tunisians worry that ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis have grown more assertive.