As ballots are counted in Afghanistan, reports have surfaced, despite the media blackout, that at least 27 people, including nine civilians, have been killed across the country in a slew of attacks on voting day, according to Global Post.
Despite the killings, voter turnout only grew as the day went on, and officials extended voting time by one hour to accommodate the crowd.
Hamid Karzai, the front-runner of the 30 presidential candidates, praised the courage of the Afghan people. “The Afghan people defied rockets, bombs and intimidation and came out to vote, that is great” he said.
He also added that 73 attacks were conducted in 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Security forces, according to Afghan officials, stopped five suicide attacks.
Scared to vote
In the morning, all over the country, polling stations stood empty. “Maybe everyone is drinking tea, or sleeping” said Abdul Mubir, manager of a polling centre in Kabul, Global Post reports.
By the afternoon it seems people emerged from their shells. Officials say more citizens began filing in around lunchtime and lines began to form outside official polling stations. By the end, turnout was apparently so strong that voting time had to be extended by one hour. In contrast, Al Jazeera reports that during the last hour of voting, a station being monitored in the capital by correspondent James Bays saw only one voter go in and out.
Despite the fairly small voting population (in comparison to larger countries) the results are not expected for several days. The deadline for the release of preliminary results is Sept. 3.
Exit polls give no indication of which candidate leads, mostly because voters are reluctant to reveal their choices so candidly. Opinions polls however suggest the possibility of a runoff election between Karzai and his main opposition Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
Many are already predicting fraud and fixing. Several voters, who mostly chose to remain unnamed, told reporters they have no faith in the electoral process in their country, a country heavily affected by U.S. presence and the Taliban insurgency.
Many analysts predict a win for the incumbent Karzai. His endorsements from former presidential candidates and the advances he’s made in his campaign in the past weeks have all but ensured victory.
However because Karzai needs 50 per cent of the vote for an outright victory, it is likely he will face a runoff election against Abdullah in the near future.