KABUL (Reuters) – Tight security ensured Afghanistan’s presidential election develop into as soon as held on Saturday in relative quiet, even supposing a complete lot of small attacks, low turnout and complaints regarding the vote casting system heightened fears an unclear result could perchance perchance power the country into additional chaos.
Preliminary results are now no longer expected earlier than Oct. 17 and last results now no longer till Nov. 7. If no candidate will get 51% of the vote, a 2d spherical will be held between the 2 leading candidates.
Taliban warring parties attacked a complete lot of polling stations across the country to verify out to derail the scheme, but intense security prevented the enormous-scale violence of earlier polls.
“This election develop into as soon as the healthiest and fairest election in comparability to the earlier elections,” stated Hawa Alam Nuristani, head of country’s Honest Election Commission (IEC), after the vote casting concluded.
Ten of thousands of Afghans braved the specter of militant attacks and delays at polling cubicles to vote within the election, a necessary take a look at of the Western-backed authorities’s skill to guard democracy in opposition to Taliban attempts to derail it.
Two policeman and one civilian had been killed in mostly small-scale Taliban attacks, the defense ministry stated, adding 37 folks had been injured.
Tens of thousands of troops had been deployed to verify out to guard voters and polling stations.
IEC officers didn’t without extend piece the details on turnout, but Western diplomats in Kabul estimated it develop into as soon as low attributable to fears of violence and delays prompted by polling officers.
Voting develop into as soon as prolonged by two hours, after technical problems delayed the opening of some polling stations around the country.
Honest election observers and activists stated a late tempo to vote casting precipitated confusion at some polling stations, with long queues forming outside.
“It took the main voter 31 minutes to vote. For subsequent voters it develop into as soon as taking around 5 minutes after which it began to streamline to 3 minutes and 30 seconds,” stated Nishank Motwani, an observer stationed in Kabul.
“Election commission workers regarded afraid and voters had been getting inflamed that the queue develop into as soon as now no longer moving.”
Some observers feared the Taliban had forced a partial shutdown to upset the last results because the IEC, without giving a motive, stated it had failed to effect contact with 901 of the 4,942 polling centers.
The hardline Islamist community, which controls more of the country than at any time since its regime fell in 2001, had warned the more than nine million registered voters to cease at home or face dire consequences.
Saturday’s presidential vote is the fourth since the Taliban develop into as soon as toppled.
Over a dozen candidates are vying for the presidency, led by incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his venerable deputy Abdullah Abdullah.
The winner will play an extraordinarily noteworthy role within the country’s quest to discontinue the battle with the Taliban and any resumption of talks between the militant Islamist community and the US, which were called off this month.
The Clear Election Foundation of Afghanistan stated early turnout develop into as soon as “very unlucky”, in fragment attributable to the requirement for voters to be photographed, to which feminine voters in conservative areas objected.
Others had been clear to vote.
“Bravado will get outlined when one musters braveness to solid one’s vote,” stated Kabul doctor Roya Jahangir after casting her ballot. “We hope this time there could be no longer any such thing as a fraud.”
A complete bunch of voters complained their names had been lacking from voters’ lists or the biometric gadgets venerable to quit fraud. Addressing those considerations, the IEC eased restrictions, allowing anyone with election stickers on their national identity cards to vote.
POLLING STATIONS ATTACKED
The small-scale attacks included an explosion at a polling role in a mosque within the southern city of Kandahar which wounded 16 folks, in keeping with a security source.
Within the northern province of Faryab, Afghan forces clashed with Taliban warring parties in six districts, forcing folks to cease indoors.
The Taliban stated its warring parties attacked polling stations in Laghman province, in eastern Afghanistan. Officers stated four explosions within the eastern city of Jalalabad, by which one person develop into as soon as killed, disrupted vote casting at some stations.
Blasts also hit Kabul and Ghazni, officers stated, while more than 400 polling centers remained closed due to this of they had been in areas below Taliban withhold a watch on.
Western diplomats stated the scale of the militant community’s attacks would resolve whether talks with Washington resumed.
“Talks can handiest initiating up if the Taliban workouts restraint and enables folks to vote,” stated one diplomat overseeing the elections.
Ghani solid his ballotin a Kabul excessive college, telling journalists: “I thank God that at present that folks’s vote will merit the republic of Afghanistan to switch forward.”
Abdullah voted at an even Kabul college. “The threats to innocent folks lift out now no longer explain the energy of the Taliban,” he stated.
Each and each males got here to energy in 2014 after a bitterly contested election marred by fraud.
Afghanistan’s political scene is quiet deplorable by the aftermath of that vote, which forced the 2 main rival groupings to receive an unstable partnership. All facets had been accused of wide electoral cheating.
Gender ruin-up across polling centers –here
Gender disparity of Afghanistan’s electorate –here
Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi, Orooj Hakimi, Paul Carsten, Hameed Farzad and Rod Nickel in Kabul, Mustafa Andalib in Ghazni, Sarawar Amani, Ismail Samim in Kandahar, Anwarullah Mohabbat in Paktia, Matin Sahak in Balkh, Storay Karimi in Herat, Ahmad Sultan and Rafiq Shirzad in Nangarhar, Writing by Rod Nickel, Rupam Jain, Editing by Kim Coghill, John Stonestreet and Brand POtter