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Voters in Afghanistan finishing historical election today


This news story was published on April 5, 2014.
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The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on 24 March 2014 organized a daylong seminar aimed at encouraging participation in the 5 April 2014 Presidential and Provincial Council elections. Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on March 24, 2014 organized a daylong seminar aimed at encouraging participation in the April 5, 2014 Presidential and Provincial Council elections. Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

KABUL – Millions of Afghans took to the polls today in a historic vote in presidential and provincial council elections, braving Taliban threats and recent attacks. This election marks the country’s first democratic transfer of power.

The elections come at a crucial time for the country. Even as the threat of a Taliban resurgence looms, this year will see the withdrawal of the majority of allied international military forces, with Afghan national forces assuming full responsibility for security countrywide.

NATO said Saturday that the Afghan people “can be proud of their security forces, who have done an outstanding job in securing the elections. For the first time, they have led all security operations, with only minimal logistic support” from international forces.

Preparations for the elections and the 6,423 planned polling places were led and managed by Afghans with support from American and other forces. Leading up to the election, Taliban leaders threatened further attacks on civilian election workers, candidates, observers, voters and election sites.  The Washington Post reported that in the past month, Afghanistan’s Taliban has killed at least 25 people in Kabul, including policemen, election officials and foreigners.  On Friday, one journalist was killed – Pulitzer-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus – and another injured as they covered election preparations in eastern Afghanistan. An Afghan policeman abruptly opened fire on their vehicle with his AK-47, yelling “Allahu Akbar” — God is Great. He then surrendered and was arrested.

There were several hundred international observers registered to monitor the elections.

An Afghan boy

An Afghan boy

Recognizing the importance of the vote, Secretary of Stare John Kerry said Saturday of the Afghan people that “This is their moment. The Afghan people secured this election. They ran this election, and most importantly, they voted in this election.

“Today’s vote demonstrates how committed the Afghan people are to protecting and advancing their democracy. The fierce determination of the millions of voters undeterred by violence and threats of violence has been remarkable.”

Kerry stressed that Afghan electoral bodies must now be given the time they need to do their work in processing the outcome of the elections.

“The United States remains ready to work with the next president of Afghanistan,” Kerry said.  “We will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan as they work to build a democratic future.”

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