1st LD Wrtiethru: Balloting for Afghan presidential runoff concludes

1st LD Wrtiethru: Balloting for Afghan presidential runoff concludes

KABUL, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The polling for Afghanistan's presidential runoff election concluded on Saturday evening and counting of ballots began, the country's election officials said.

"The polling, which began 7:00 local time Saturday has ended at 4:00 p.m. local time," an Independent Election Commission (IEC) commissioner, Sareer Ahmad Barmak, told local media.

The Afghan election officials said that the election was relatively peaceful despite some attacks and complaints.

They said that the IEC has taken note of allegations of fraud and all those allegations are being looked into.

The runoff election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai leads the country into a new era with declining international military and civilian assistance.

The two entered a runoff after none of the eight candidates obtained an outright victory or more than half of the valid votes in the first round held on April 5.

The Taliban insurgent group fighting the government has vowed to disrupt the election process. They launched several attacks on polling centers Saturday.

At least four security forces were killed and 20 civilians were wounded in the Taliban raids.

According to the final results of the April 5 election, Abdullah secured 45 percent of some 7 million votes, and Ahmadzai won 31.6 percent.

Afghans began voting earlier on Saturday to elect a new president for the next five years in the first transfer of power through polling in the country's history.

There are more than 12 million eligible voters, 35 percent of them women. The number of turnout remained unknown so far. There were 6,365 polling centers and 23,136 stations for the voting.

The preliminary results of the runoff will be clear on July 2 while the final result of the polls will be announced on July 22.