Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Paulo FilgueirasSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended the Egyptian authorities for their organization of the country?s presidential elections and the people of Egypt for their participation.

?The Secretary-General has been following with interest Egypt?s presidential election process,? Mr. Ban?s spokesperson said in a statement. ?These historic elections, in which Egyptians will freely choose their President from amongst numerous candidates, are an important milestone in Egypt?s democratic transition.?

In addition to his praise for the poll?s organization and the public?s participation, Mr. Ban also welcomed initial reports of a strong turn-out of women voters.

?He also notes the calm and positive atmosphere in which the voting took place and looks forward to the credible and peaceful conclusion of this process,? the spokesperson added.

The first round of voting for a new president ? the first since long-standing leader Hosni Mubarak was toppled by popular protests in January last year ? took place earlier this week, with a runoff second-round to be held on 16-17 June, and the victor expected to be announced on 21 June, according to media reports.

The UN chief has previously said that a successful transition in Egypt towards greater democracy can inspire the rest of the region and has urged the country to continue with its reforms by holding fair and transparent elections soon, upholding the rights of women and minorities and encouraging the development of a free press

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