Landmark Afghan election begins

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Landmark Afghan election begins

Landmark Afghan election begins

(Kabul) – Voting began in Afghanistan’s presidential election, which will mark the first democratic transfer of power since the country was tipped into chaos by the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001. Taleban insurgents launched a spate of attacks that killed dozens in the run-up to the vote, which they brand as a US-backed sham, but there was no word of violence as voting got under way.
About 12 million are eligible to vote in the election. There are eight candidates contesting, with former foreign ministers Abdullah Abdullah and Zalmay Rassoul, and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani the favourites. Hamid Karzai, the incumbent, is not allowed to run for the presidency again by the constitution. But, after 12 years in power, Karzai is widely expected to retain influence through politicians loyal to him.
More than 350,000 Afghan troops have been put on duty to thwart attacks on polling stations and voters. The capital, Kabul, has been sealed off from the rest of the country by rings of roadblocks and checkpoints. Most people expect the election will be better run than the chaotic 2009 vote that handed Karzai a second term amid massive fraud and ballot stuffing.
But it could take months perhaps until October for a winner to be declared at a time when the country desperately needs a leader to stem rising violence as foreign troops prepare to leave.

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