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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid