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Afghans relieved by smooth election, high turnout

Source: Reuters - Sun, 6 Apr 2014 16:31 PM
Author: Reuters
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Kabul remains under tight security after Afghanistan's landmark presidential election.

Voter turnout was bigger than expected...nearly 60 percent.

This, despite threats from Taliban insurgents to derail the vote with violence.

There's a palpable sense that, just perhaps, greater stability is finally within reach.

(SOUNDBITE) (Dari) ABDUL LATIF, RESIDENT OF KABUL, SAYING:

"We are so happy that yesterday's election took place in a peaceful environment. There was good security around the country and everywhere was peaceful."

Saturday's election was Afghanistan's first attempt at a democratic transfer of power since the Taliban lost control of the country.

Shukria Barakzai is a member of parliament.

She says the high turnout despite the security threat sent a message to the Taliban, who had called the election a Western sham.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND POLITICAL ANALYST SHUKRIA BARAEKZAI, SAYING:

"That was a fantastic slap on the face of enemy of Afghanistan and exactly a big punch on the face of those whom believed Afghanistan is not ready for democracy."

But now begins a potentially dangerous period for Afghanistan.

The winner needs over 50 percent of votes to avoid a run-off election, which could leave a power vacuum for the Taliban to exploit.

(SOUNDBITE) (Dari) HABIBULLAH JAN, RESIDENT OF KABUL, SAYING:

"We want the election result to be finalized in the first round. Our people, government, and economy are very weak. If it goes to the second round, it will be a challenge for our security forces."

Final election results won't come in for another six weeks.

Just when the country desperately needs a leader to stem rising violence, as foreign troops prepare to leave.

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