News / Asia

Afghans Vote for New President Amid Taliban Threats

Afghan policemen keep watch as election commission workers move ballot boxes and election material to a polling station in Kabul, June 13, 2014.
Afghan policemen keep watch as election commission workers move ballot boxes and election material to a polling station in Kabul, June 13, 2014.
Sharon Behn
Afghan voters are heading to the polls under the threat of Taliban attack to vote in a runoff presidential election.

The Taliban has vowed to violently thwart Saturday's election, and the mood across the country appeared to be wary as security forces made last-minute efforts to secure polling stations.

There were several explosions in the capital Saturday morning, but there have been no reports of casualties.

Afghan troops stepped up security sharply, erecting more checkpoints, searching cars and banning trucks from the streets of the capital, Kabul.

Presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have pledged to maintain a close military relationship with the United States. That would allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in the country for two more years to conduct counterterrorism operations and continue training and advising the Afghan army and police.

Both candidates served in the Cabinet of President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since December 2001 after the Taliban government was toppled.

Show of force

In addition to regular troops, some 195,000 extra forces have been deployed to protect voters and the roughly 6,300 polling centers, says Ministry of Defense spokesman General Zahir Azimi.
 
Afghanistan Readies for Presidential Run-offi
X
Sharon Behn
June 13, 2014 3:12 PM
On Saturday, Afghans will head to the polls to choose a new president from the two contestants left in the race, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. Sharon Behn reports from Kabul that security is tight and the race is too close to call.

“All the mountains, valleys and areas where the enemy could attack, your sons and your brothers, our soldiers, are putting their lives on the line to prevent any threats and to protect your presence at the polling stations,” he said.

The winner will have to contend with a weak economy, militant violence, and how to keep the international community involved in Afghanistan’s development.
 
Jan Kubis, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, calls the vote crucial to the country’s future.
 
“Afghanistan is heading for one of the most important days in the modern history of this country,” he said.
 
Gauging national public support for either candidate is difficult, but surveys published in recent weeks indicate the race will be close.
 
Ghani supporters such as Maryam Suleiman Kheil are convinced their preferred candidate, a former World Bank official and finance minister, is best equipped to stabilize the country and lead it forward.
 
“He’s the person I feel is the most capable of bringing a change, a basic foundation for the future of Afghanistan, for the security of the world and for the youth,” she said.
 
Agendas, supporters

Abdullah backers such as Mahmoud Saikal, however, are just as adamant, saying only the former foreign minister can pull together a country riven by ethnic and tribal politics.
 
“We have been developing a national agenda for Afghanistan," he said. "We don’t have an ethnic agenda, we don’t have a linguistic agenda, we don’t have a regional agenda.”
 
Despite concerns about violence and fraud on election day, young voters in Kabul like Hodadad Shweib remain optimistic.

“Election is vital in a democratic practice in Afghanistan, so as a young person, as an Afghan, I am totally hopeful of the process and I am sure it will be much more successful,” said Shweib.
 
Officials are hoping Saturday’s turnout will strong, handing the country’s next leader a clear mandate.
  • A man loads ballot boxes and other election material onto a donkey to be transported to polling stations not accessible by road, in Shutul, Panjshir province, June 13, 2014. 
  • A man walks with a donkey loaded with ballot boxes and other election material to be transported to polling stations not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, June 13, 2014.
  • A woman walks past a mural to support voting in Kandahar, south of Kabul, June 13, 2014. 
  • Afghan election workers in a warehouse carry ballot boxes and election materials, in Kabul, June 13, 2014. 
  • Afghan police and soldiers guard checkpoints at almost every intersection, searching vehicles and frisking drivers in a massive security operation ahead of elections, Kabul, June 13, 2014. 
  • With fears for violence high during the presidential election, Afghanistan National Army soldiers stand alert, in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 13, 2014.

     
  • A female police officer, in blue burqa, searches female passengers at a checkpoint in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 13, 2014. 
  • Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai speaks during his last campaign rally in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 11, 2014.
  • Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, center, with his allies, raises his arm during his last campaign rally in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 11, 2014.

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid