He has urged Afghans to defy Taliban threats and vote and President Hamid Karzai led by example, casting his ballot early today in Kabul.
Karzai is expected to be returned to power. But, amid an upsurge in violence, he knows these presidential and provincial polls could prove the toughest test yet of his nation’s fragile democracy.
“I request the Afghan people to come out and vote so that, through their vote, Afghanistan can be a more secure, more peaceful and a better country,” Karzai said, speaking to reporters.
Fraud could play a part in these elections, with reports of voter registration cards for sale on the streets.
But the fear factor looks like the greatest threat. After suicide attacks in Kabul in the run-up to the elections, security is tight.
The militants say they will close roads nationwide to prevent people voting and have infiltrated 20 suicide bombers into the capital. Already today, rockets have landed in the southern city of Kandahar.