High turnout in Afghanistan as voters defy Taliban threats

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The Taliban threat of violence did not seem to deter voters in the places where western journalists were able to travel and observe.

In the capital Kabul, so many people turned out to vote that the election commission extended the hours that polling stations were open.

One man proudly declared he was voting for the country’s future: “On this day I have come here to perform my Islamic and national duty. I was one of the first who arrived here to vote very early.”

However the election commission said nationwide at least 10 percent of polling stations were shut due to security threats.

One of the many women voting told us: “I voted, I wasn’t worried about security, I can’t tell you for whom I voted, and I don’t know if one candidate is better than another, God is a better judge than us.”

There are few foreign election observers in the country, most left following a deadly attack on a hotel in Kabul last month, but locals have taken up that role.

One of them spoke to euronews: “My name is Luisa and I’m an observer. People are coming here to elect their president and the provincial council members. While I’ve been here there’s been no fraud and security is excellent, we are happy with the process.”

This historic election is notable particularly for the level of defiance to the threat of violence from the Taliban.

In the city of Kandahar, cradle of the Taliban insurgency, the mood was tense. Vehicles were not allowed to move on the roads and checkpoints were set up at every intersection.

But people went to cast their votes. Kandahar resident Abdul Mateen was determined and fatalistic: “We have come here to cast our votes for a honest president and for a president who will work for this country. We are not scared of anyone, we will die one day anyway. We only have one life.”

In Kabul euronews correspondent Mustafa Bag said: “The people of Afghanistan were lining up at the polls at seven o’clock in the morning to choose their new president, who will lead the country for the next five years. I’m at the polling station at Zarghona girls high school where men and women have been voting in separate buildings. We’ve seen a very high turn out. There are police everywhere, very tight security measures with every voter being carefully searched.”

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