News / Asia

Afghans Tally Votes in Landmark Presidential Runoff Election

Afghan men display their identification cards as the wait to cast their votes outside a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 14, 2014.
Afghan men display their identification cards as the wait to cast their votes outside a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 14, 2014.
Sharon Behn
Saturday was the second time in just over two months that millions of Afghans defied constant Taliban threats and headed to the polls to cast a vote in run-off between the two former government ministers, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

As polls closed around the country, voters proudly held up their ink-stained forefingers to prove that they had cast their ballot.

One young first-time voter, Sheikayba Alokozy, said explosions that rocked Kabul in the early morning were not enough to interrupt the election.

"We want peace in Afghanistan, and we want a complete change in the country," she said. "We are not scared of anybody. The enemy, no matter how much they attack us, we will not run away and we will cast our ballots."

Interior Minister Mohammed Omer Daudzai reported 150 minor attacks, including roadside bombs and rocket firing. He said 46 civilians and security force personnel and 60 insurgents were killed nationwide. Hours after the polls closed, officials in the rural Herat province said Taliban militants had cut off the fingers of at least 11 people who voted.

The overall violence was not enough to derail the process, however, and officials began to congratulate Afghans for another successful election shortly after polls had closed.

The Taliban claimed they had carried out more than 240 attacks across the country. The militant group often exaggerates and there was no independent verification of its claims.

Afghanistan’s acting intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabel said most of the attempted militant attacks had been foiled.

"The insurgents had planned more than 1,000 attacks, and in some cases they were able to carry out those attacks, but they failed to disrupt the vote, and some of our countrymen were martyred as a result, but they did not manage to derail the elections," he said.

The International Security Assistance Force commended the Afghan troops Saturday, saying the successful election "clearly demonstrates" Afghans' confidence in the security provided by their own forces.

Strong turnout

Independent Election Commission chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani said Saturday’s turnout was strong, equaling numbers recorded in the first round April 5 election, in which none of presidential candidates claimed the 50 percent mark required to obviate Saturdays runoff between Ghani and Abdullah.

"The estimated number of voters in today’s elections is of more than seven million, of which women were 38 percent, and men 62 percent," he said.

After a series of early morning blasts in Kabul, voters began to stream into polling centers around the capital. Outside the polling stations, streets were largely empty except for armed police walking or riding in pickup trucks. Most voters walked to their local polling centers, and the few drivers who ventured onto the street were stopped and questioned.

For many, such as Haji Gholam Gilani, this election was a historic chance to lay a path for the country’s future.

"This election is important not just for me, but also for the future of my children," he said. "This vote will decide the future of the country for the next five years, and that is why I am here."

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission and Complaints Commission have said they will review all reports of voting irregularities. Officials have said it is crucial that the vote is credible, so that the results are acceptable to the Afghan people.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham issued a statement praising voters and Afghanistan’s security forces. Cunningham and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also encouraged the country’s electoral commissions to look into any voting irregularities and called on the candidates to respect the results. 

The final result of Saturday’s election is expected July 22. Whoever wins the vote will succeed current President Hamid Karzai and lead Afghanistan for the next five years.

Both presidential candidates 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.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Fisher Zulkarnain from: bandung-indonesia
June 15, 2014 5:49 AM
Congratulation for afghan people, you have elected your president democratically. I proud muslim country can do the election as well as western country

by: joseph effiong from: calabar - nigeria
June 15, 2014 4:06 AM
God bless the courageous Afghans that went out to vote . Curse be Talibans that cut Afghans fingers because they expressed they eternal feeling and passion for their beloved nation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs