Afghans voted on Saturday in a one-day presidential election to elect their country’s new president through ballots amid a spate of small-scale attacks targeting polling stations across the country.
At least one person was killed and 27 more wounded in bomb and mortar attacks targeting polling stations for Afghanistan’s presidential election. The largest was in Kandahar.
A total of 70 000 security forces were deployed across the country, reportedly preventing at least five significant further attacks as people cast their ballots.
About 4 500 polling stations were open across Afghanistan, though due to security fears almost 450 remained closed.
Presidential candidate Mohammad Ibrahim Alokozay dropped out of the race days before the vote but called on citizens to brave the attacks.
“If people want a democratic Afghanistan, an Islamic Afghanistan, an Afghanistan republic government, then they shouldn’t sit at home but to join the turnout and vote,” he said at a polling station.
There were reportedly around 9.4 million registered voters but initial reports from Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission put voter turnout much lower, potentially undermining the result.
And those who did cast a ballot were clearly determined to make a difference.
“In the name of Allah. My reason for coming to vote is that not voting is not the solution for Afghanistan. And even though there are lots of threats and lots of cheating, not voting is not the solution,” said Mohammed Rahman Nazari, a voter in Kabul.
The election came after the breakdown in peace talks between the United States and the Taliban earlier this month.
Some Afghans wanted the elections delayed until a peace deal with the Taliban is in place. Others saw it differently.
“If we don’t have an election, if we don’t have a legitimate government, who are we going to make a peace deal with?” said Khalid Naziri, also a voter in Kabul.
Biometric devices were used for the first time to try prevent the allegations of widespread fraud that marred recent parliamentary elections.
Almost 140 000 local and international observers were on hand.
Preliminary results of the poll are expected to be announced on October 19 and the final results are expected on November 7.