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Afghanistan - elections

Twenty six dead but election day hailed as a success

Article published on the 2009-08-20 Latest update 2009-08-20 18:50 TU

Election officials sort ballot papers in Kandahar(Photo: Reuters)

Election officials sort ballot papers in Kandahar
(Photo: Reuters)

Afghans have gone to the polls to elect a new president for the second time in history. Although there were fears that the threat of election violence would make voting unsafe, the day was hailed as a success by the Afghanistan government, NATO and the United Nations (UN).

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon congratulated the Afghan people for voting in a difficult security situation. Up to 300,000 soldiers, a third of whom were UN and NATO led, guarded poll stations after the Taliban threatened to disrupt voting.

But election day was far from peaceful as 26 security personnel and civilians were killed in a series of attacks across the country.

Notable clashes occurred in the northern town of Baghan, where security forces killed up to 22 fighters. Kabul also saw a two hour shoot out between Taliban and Afghan forces which left two dead.

Afghans were electing a President and 420 councillors in 34 provinces across Afghanistan. Officials say it will be some time before they can determine how many of the 17 million who registered to vote had cast their ballots. There were fears that voter turnout had been low, particularly in the most violent regions.

Around 70 per cent of Afghans voted in the 2004 elections.

Report: Women voters

20/08/2009 by Tony Cross

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