Afghans go to the polls

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, one of the presidential candidates leading the polls.
Image: S.K. Vemmer, US Department of State.

Voters in Afghanistan went to the polls today to elect the country's next president.

Polls have reportedly only been marred by a small amount of violence while participation has been described as high by reporters. The government deployed more than 350,000 troops to protect voters from attacks on polling stations; security measures have included checkpoints on roads.

The three front-runners in the election are reported to be the former World Bank academic Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, doctor Abdullah Abdullah, and former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul. The incumbent Hamid Karzai is not allowed to stand because of term limits.

The election in Afghanistan follows the shooting this week of two Associated Press journalists by Afghan police: Anja Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon. Also recently, on Tuesday British troops formally shut down their base in Helmand as part of a planned withdrawal process from the region.