News Column

Rival candidates Ghani and Abdullah cast votes in Afghan presidential polls

June 14, 2014


Kabul, June 14 (ANI): Afghanistan's two main presidential election candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah cast their votes here on Saturday.

Ghani, a ex-World Bank economist and former finance minister, and Abdullah, a former foreign minister and a former anti-Taliban fighter dipped their fingers in indelible ink, filled out ballot papers in a cardboard booth, before dropping their papers into sealed boxes.

Saturday's final round of the presidential election began at 7 a.m. local times amid tight security, and will end at 4 p.m.

Election officials, however, said polling could be extended by an hour to allow as many people as possible to vote.

In the first round of the presidential elections on April 5, none of the eight candidates in the fray won more than 50 percent of the vote, resulting in a second face-off between the top two contenders - Ghani and Abdullah today.

In the April 5 vote result, Abdullah won 45 percent of the vote, while Ghani got 31.6 percent.

One of the two will succeed President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

They will inherit an unfinished war and an economy in the doldrums, besides the ever present threat of Taliban insurgents.

Afghanistan's largely foreign-trained army will also be put to the test on its effectiveness in dealing with this threat once U.S.-led NATO troops leave the country at the end of the year.

After casting his vote, Ghani, who was surrounded by his supporters, said: "The first time, there were many candidates. The nation was not presented with a clear choice. This time it is a clear choice between two leaders with different visions, different experience, two teams, committed to different ideals."

After casting his vote, Abdullah said: "My message to the people of Afghanistan is that today is your day, today is our day and today is Afghanistan's day and a better future is waiting for them, a better prosperous life is waiting for them, peaceful life is waiting for them. By voting to us, Inshallah, their future is assured and their future is guaranteed."

Abdullah also said: "Security is a concern, but the people of Afghanistan have defied security threats so far. There have been some incidents here and there, but still people have turned out in high numbers, and hopefully that number will be higher later on today."

Media reports said that Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun, stands to gain more of the Pashtun vote that was split between candidates in the first round. Abdullah is part Pashtun but more closely identified with the ethnic Tajik minority.

The Taliban has warned the people not to vote in the elections, which they termed a U.S.-sponsored charade. (ANI)

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Source: Asian News International

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