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AKIPRESS.COM - Polling stations in Afghanistan closed Saturday in a relatively peaceful election after voters turned out in large numbers to elect a new president, according to MarketWatch.
Leading up to the election, the Taliban had threatened widespread violence against voters but about 7 million out of 12 million eligible to vote turned out, a 58% voter turnout rate, based on early estimates. That was much higher than the 4.5 million who voted in 2009. Nearly 1,000 of the 6,423 polling stations had to be closed for fear of violence.
Violence was reported across the country although not as bad as threatened by the Taliban. Interior Minister Umer Daudzai said that nine policemen, seven soldiers, 89 Taliban, and four civilians were killed in incidents across the country in the past 24 hours ranging from roadside bombs to polling station attacks. No large-scale assaults were reported.
The election marks Afghanistan’s aatempts at its first peaceful and democratic transition of power following decades of conflict.
Candidates included Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank executive, along with Zalmai Rassoul and Abdullah Abdullah, both former foreign ministers. It should take about six weeks to count all the votes. No one candidate is expected to pull a majority and a runoff election is expected later in the year.