Afghans celebrate peaceful run-off vote
Despite being mainly peaceful, polling day saw at least 150 minor attacks, including a Taliban rocket that hit a house near a polling station in the eastern province of Khost, killing five members of the same family. The election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani leads the country into a new era of declining international military and civilian assistance.
‘The voting has gone well and as planned. As you see, the turnout has been large,’ said Independent Election Commission chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani. He admitted there had also been problems with ballot paper shortages, but said that affected polling stations had been re-supplied. President Hamid Karzai is due to step down after ruling Afghanistan since 2001, when a US-led offensive ousted the austere Taliban regime for sheltering Al-Qaeda militants behind the
9/11 attacks.A smooth handover would be a major achievement for the international effort to establish a functioning state after the depredations of the Taliban era. ‘We are very proud to be choosing our favourite candidate. Today Afghanistan goes from a transition period toward long-lasting peace,’ Karzai said after voting.