News - Election 2014
Officials from the Independent Elections Commission (IEC), Afghanistan's top security institutions and a number of presidential candidates have applauded the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) for maintaining an overwhelmingly peaceful atmosphere for the millions of voters nationwide who participated in Saturday's historic elections.
The Taliban had promised to derail Saturday's vote, which marked the beginning of the first democratic transition of presidential power in Afghanistan's history, but the day was carried out without any major disruption.
Security forces were charged with protecting 6,212 polling stations on Saturday, along with major roads throughout the country. Only 211 centers that were originally planned to be open ended up being closed down due to security threats.
"The opposition groups planned 140 attacks in past 24 hours," Interior Minister Umer Daudzai said on Saturday night. "Nine police and six army solderis were killed, but 89 insurgents were killed as a result of ANSF operations."
Officials were eager to praise the security forces after polls closed at 5:00PM, and positive reviews of the election process began to rain in from foreign dignitaries and spread across social media.
During a press conference on Saturday night, election and security officials credited the security forces with keeping order in the country and making it possible for an estimated seven million Afghans to cast their votes. If accurate, the figures regarding turnout on Saturday would mean more than twice the amount of voters participated in this year's election than in 2009.
There were reportedly some threats and small skirmishes in Kunar, Nangarhar, Wardak, Kapisa, Faryab and Kunduz provinces, but even in those provinces the election process occurred without any serious violence or casualties.
"Overall, today, we had one casualty, four wounded in Kunduz, and in other parts of the country insurgents fired rockets to disrupt the elections," IEC head Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani said. "Some of the polling centers were closed for few hours because of security threats, but reopened soon after."
In Kandahar province, which saw over 30 bombings during the 2009 election, there was not a single attack reported at any of the polling centers.
While the general response the elections received from the international community was positive, with many applauding the Afghan security forces for their efforts, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmerman argued that violence was still a serious problem in Afghanistan.
"On the one hand, you know you can be encouraged by the fact that so many people want to use their democratic right to vote," Timmerman said Saturday evening. "And on the other hand, it is still impossible to have a meaningful observer mission in Afghanistan because it is too dangerous."