Voting to end in Afghanistan

2009-08-20 19:47 BJT

Special Report: Afghan presidential election |

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Voting is nearing its end at thousands of polling stations across Afghanistan. Voters are choosing their next president, hoping to shape a brighter future. Despite threats from the Taliban, election observers say there have been encouraging signs of a high turnout.

Observers say they have seen long queues forming at polling stations across the country, especially in the east.

A UN spokesman in Kabul says a vast majority of polling stations were cleared to open.

Police have set up road blocks in the capital and are carrying out extensive searches, as the Taliban threatened to derail the voting process with suicide attacks.

Incumbent President Hamid Karzai cast his vote at a Kabul high school on Thursday morning. He called on Afghans to defy Taliban threats, and to vote for stability and peace.

Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, said, "It's the second presidential and parliamentary election in Afghanistan and I'm sure that, Inshallah(God willing), this will be for peace, for progress and for the well being of the Afghan people and I request the Afghan people to come out and vote so that, through their vote, Afghanistan can be more secure, more peaceful, and a better country. No violence. Vote, no violence!"

Karzai is facing a strong challenge from his former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah. The president's main rival also encouraged voters to exercise their right.