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Good Turnout in Afghan Elections
Apr 07, 2014

Despite the dangers Afghan people faced at polling stations, early estimates of voters’ turnout indicated that more than seven million ballots were cast on 5 April, as polling places stayed opened for an extra hour and additional ballot papers were issued to cope with the long lines. It's estimated about 13 million people were eligible to vote for Afghanistan's next president, a successor to Hamid Karzai. Afghan people also voted for provincial councils.

This has truly been an election led by Afghans, secured by Afghans, for the future of Afghans. These elections are a measure of the determination for a say in their country's first-ever democratic transfer of power, as President Hamid Karzai prepares to stand down after 12 years in power. Voting was largely peaceful, a development largely attributed to the progress made by the country's 350,000-strong security forces.

Unlike in previous elections where the ethnic background of the candidates played a key role, this time around it was their manifestos which took center stage. About a third of Afghanistan's population is under 25 years of age.

The Taliban had repeatedly threatened to sabotage the poll. But even highly volatile regions such as Helmand Province remained peaceful on election day. Many experts had expected a low turnout of female voters as women are often targeted by the Taliban. But on election day, Afghan women defied the Taliban to such an extent that some reports claim they even outvoted men in the northern province of Takhar.

The United Nations has praised Afghanistan voters for turning out en masse despite threats of violence by the Taliban. Despite several deadly clashes, the vote has been hailed as a success. US President Barack Obama said the election represented another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country as the United States and our partners draw down forces.

Preliminary results are set to be announced on April 24.


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