A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Today is a magnificent day for Afghanistan"

AP: Afghans Vote Despite Call for Boycott---

KABUL, Afghanistan - Trooping into schools, mosques and tents, millions of Afghans defied a Taliban boycott call and militant attacks to vote for a new parliament Sunday, taking the last formal step in starting a democracy aimed at ending decades of rule by the gun.

Officials hailed the polls as a major success, although initial estimates suggested voter turnout was lower than hoped for because of security fears and frustrations over the inclusion of several warlords on the ballot. Results were not expected for more than a week.

Many people looked to a big vote to marginalize renegade loyalists of the ousted Taliban regime by demonstrating public support for an elected government built up under the protection of 20,000 soldiers in the American-led coalition and 11,000 NATO peacekeepers.

"After 30 years of wars, interventions, occupations and misery, today Afghanistan is moving forward, making an economy, making political institutions," President Hamid Karzai said as he cast his ballot nearly a year after his own victory in an election that defied Taliban threats.

He praised Afghans for going out to vote for the parliament and 34 provincial councils "in spite of the terrorism, in spite of the threats."
Enthusiasm was generally high as Afghans clutching voter identification cards filed into schools with lessons still scrawled on blackboards or stepped over piles of shoes to cast ballots in mosques. Tents served as polling stations in remote areas.

"Today is a magnificent day for Afghanistan," said Ali Safar, 62, standing in line to vote in Kabul. "We want dignity, we want stability and peace."