26 Killed During Afghan Election, Turnout Uncertain

Millions of Afghans braved threats of Taliban attacks on polling stations and retaliation against voters to go to the polls Thursday. There was violence and intimidation across the country, blamed on the Taliban, including rocket attacks, explosions, armed assaults, theft and burning of ballot boxes and blocking of roads. The government says 26 people, including civilians, soldiers and policemen died in election-related attacks.

President Hamid Karzai says the election is a success, despite attacks in 15 provinces.

The president says the Afghan people dared rockets, explosions, suicide bombers and intimidation. Despite this, he adds, they came out to vote.

Mr. Karzai, the favorite in pre-election surveys, needs to capture more than 50 percent of the votes to win another term and avoid a runoff. Partial results are expected to be released before Sunday.

Amir Khan, voting at a Kabul mosque, says the Taliban threats to disrupt the election and chop off fingers of voters did not deter him.

Khan says he was not at all fearful, because the government has good control of security and thus he has no reason to fear the Taliban.

Officials: massive security helped

Government officials say the massive security presence in the capital and elsewhere disrupted many attacks, including one on a top Kabul hotel and the attempted takeover of ministry buildings.

In addition to the violence, there also were allegations of vote-buying, ballot box stuffing, shortages of ballots and fake voter cards. 

Fraud witnessed

Member of Parliament Fawzia Kufi tells VOA she witnessed Independent Election Commission personnel filling out women's ballots.  

"The level of fraud and interference by the election staff, by the local officials was very high," Kufi said. "I have visited a site. The IEC staff were filling out the ballots on their behalf. This, I think, is going to affect the credibility of the result of the election and the government, which is going to be created as a result of this election."

Afghanistan's deputy chief electoral officer, Zekria Barakzai, in a VOA interview, said such complaints are being taken seriously.

"We will investigate any kind of fraudulent activities... and, during the day, we have received a number of these kind of reports, and we took immediate action," Barakzai said.

International observers, monitors visited polls

The process is also under the scrutiny of thousands of monitors and observers from domestic and international organizations.

The most prominent observer was the top United Nations official in the country, Kai Eide, who spoke to VOA News outside a voting center he inspected.

"What is the sense that fills me most today, when this election day is over, it is profound respect for the Afghan people. For those who have organised the elections, and for all those who have turned out, determined to take part in shaping the future of this country."

There are about 100,000 NATO-led and American troops in the country.

Former U.S. Congressman Jim Moody toured polling places in Kabul as an observer for Democracy International. He tells VOA News what he saw appeared "very smooth and orderly."

"No election is perfect, including in the United States," Moody noted. " We've had our problems. Given the circumstances that this country is still at war, there's tremendous internal conflict, I think we really have to congratulate the Afghan people and the Afghan authorities."

Voters hope for peaceful future

Student Ramin Karimi says he voted for a candidate he hopes can bring peace to the country.

Karimi tells VOA he wants a president who will end war, do a good job and rescue Afghanistan from its present condition.

Voters also cast ballots for advisory provincial councils.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs