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ABU DHABI, April 05. /ITAR-TASS/. The turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential and municipal elections on Saturday, April 5, was 58%, Independent Electoral Commission Chair Yusuf Nuristani said.
“According to preliminary estimates, about seven million citizens of Afghanistan voted today. The overall number of voters is 12 million,” he said.
Polling stations officially closed at 17:00 local time, but Afghan media reported that some of them continued working for more than an hour to allow all those wishing to vote to do so. And some commissions were said to have started counting votes even though initially this procedure was scheduled for April 6.
Despite negative forecasts, the main problems the country had to deal with on this day were heavy rains and a shortage of ballots, not the Taliban movement as was feared. Polling stations stayed open longer by one hour because of bad weather to let people vote.
The situation in the country was calm despite the Taliban fighters’ threats to upset the voting at any cost. Unprecedented security measures taken by the authorities, with 350,000 army personnel and law enforcers ensuring law and order, helped to prevent casualties among civilians.
However, the online version of the Indian newspaper DNA said two policemen had been killed and two wounded in the city of Qalat, the capital of the Zabul province in the south of Afghanistan, as a result of a roadside bomb blast.
Over 300 local and international observers who monitored the voting reported some minor irregularities that were promptly rectified by the local authorities.
There are about 12 million eligible voters in Afghanistan. Given the complex situation in the country, the elections will be deemed valid with any turnout. Vote counting will begin on April 6 and continue for two weeks until April 20. Preliminary results will be announced on April 24.
Analysts say that none of the candidates will get the necessary 50 percent plus one vote in the first round and the country will most likely have a runoff election on May 28. The winner will be selected by a simple majority of votes.
Afghan and foreign observers say that only three of the eight presidential candidates have real chances of success. These are former Foreign Ministers Zalmai Rassoul and Abdullah Abdullah, and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. They are well known both inside the country and abroad as they held senior government positions under incumbent President Hamid Karzai, who is not allowed by the Constitution to run for a third term.