Big Turnout, Few Incidents in Afghan Election

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
So many people turned out to vote in Afghanistan

MGN Online

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The international community has widely praised Afghanistan for holding national elections that saw a heavy turnout despite complaints about a shortage of ballots and reports of fraud.

Millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats and crowded into mosques and schools being used as polling centers to vote Saturday for a new president and provincial councils. President Hamid Karzai is on his way out, constitutionally barred from a third team after leading the country since after the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

While a feared wide-scale disruption of voting didn't materialize, the interior minister says scattered violence left 20 people dead in a span of 24 hours -- 16 Afghan security forces and four civilians.

Dozens of planned polling centers didn't open because of rocket and gunfire attacks. In one district a bomb exploded in a school packed with voters, wounding two men.

Still, turnout was so high that some polling centers ran out of ballots, and voting was extended by an hour to accommodate those still in line.

Ballot boxes have been loaded onto trucks and donkeys to be taken to Independent Election Commission facilities where they are being tallied. Officials have said partial results could be released as early as Sunday but caution it is likely to be at least a week before a complete picture emerges.

With eight presidential candidates on the ballot, a runoff is widely expected.


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