The polling stations are now closed in Afghanistan and the voter turnout to elect the country’s new president was reportedly around 58%.
The high numbers and the peaceful process signals a successful Afghan election.
The number of security personnel seems to have done its job of halting the Taliban threat, especially around the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
Most are thrilled at the outcome. One resident in the capital Kabul said: “We are so happy that yesterday’s election took place in a peaceful environment.”
Habibullah Jan also lives in Kabul and told euronews: “We want the election result to be finalised in the first round. Our people, government and economy are very weak. If it goes to the second round, it will be a challenge for our security forces.”
Afghanistan’s rugged terrain means it could take six weeks for the ballot boxes to be sorted. Observers are anxious about the new leader, who will be tasked with stemming escalating violence just as US troops prepare to leave.
Thijs Berman, the EU’s chief observer commented: “What they hope for these elections is that the country is finally capable of transitioning power in a peaceful way and that is a tremendous hope for elderly people but in particular also for the young generation who want to see these foreigners leave and who really want to take the future of the country in their hands.”
It could be a new dawn for Afghanistan, with all sections of society, playing their role.
But first, an outright winner needs to emerge to avoid a May run-off.
The new leader would also have to decide on a pact with Washington to keep up to ten thousand US troops on the ground.
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