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Obama hails 'critical' Afghan vote

US President Barack Obama welcomed the completion of Afghanistan's presidential vote, set to usher in the country's first democratic transfer of power, saying it was critical to ensure continued international support. Masses of Afghan voters lined up outside polling stations -- with a final turnout election officials say could exceed 50 percent -- to pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2001.

Baird praises Afghans after high elections turnout, especially women

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Afghans have demonstrated their commitment to a democratic future, and now a new government must demonstrate that commitment as well. Baird commented after Afghans defied a threat of Taliban violence and flocked to polling stations on Saturday in numbers so high that some centres ran out of ballots, and others stayed open late. Baird noted that an unprecedented number of Afghan women turned out.<

Baird praises Afghans after high elections turnout, especially women

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Afghans have demonstrated their commitment to a democratic future, and now a new government must demonstrate that commitment as well. Baird commented after Afghans defied a threat of Taliban violence and flocked to polling stations on Saturday in numbers so high that some centres ran out of ballots, and others stayed open late. Baird noted that an unprecedented number of Afghan women turned out.<

Afghans hail peaceful election, high turnout predicted

Afghans celebrated a largely peaceful election on Saturday, as turnout exceeded predictions despite Taliban threats to disrupt the vote to choose President Hamid Karzai's successor. Long queues of voters waited throughout the day outside many of the 6,400 polling centres before the prolonged process of counting began, with preliminary results not due until April 24. Whoever emerges victorious must lead the fight against the Taliban without the help of US-led combat troops, and also strengthen an economy reliant on declining aid money.

Afghans voters defy Taliban threats as US troops exit

Afghan voters turned out in large numbers Saturday, braving Taliban threats, to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power as US-led forces wind down their 13-year war. Long queues formed outside polling stations in cities across the country, despite cold, wet weather, as voters cast their ballots at around 6,000 centres under tight security.

Polls start to close in Afghan election

Polling stations in Saturday's election to choose a successor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai officially closed at 5:00 pm (1230 GMT), officials said, after a day without major security incidents. But voting was set to continue for some time as voters in line at polling stations would be allowed to cast their ballot, a senior official with the Independent Election Commission said. emh/pdw/jom

Afghans defy Taliban threats to vote in large numbers

Afghans voted in large numbers Saturday to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power as US-led forces end their 13-year war. Despite Taliban threats, voting was largely peaceful with long queues in cities across the country as voters cast their ballots at around 6,000 centres under tight security. The Taliban had rejected the election as a foreign plot and urged their fighters to target polling staff, voters and security forces, but there were no major attacks reported during the day.

Taliban's former capital embraces Afghan election

In the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, peaceful streets and long voter lines on Saturday stood in stark contrast to the violent 2009 election, when residents cowered indoors fearful of Taliban attack. The city where the Taliban first emerged in the early 1990s has been the scene of much insurgent unrest since 2001, and was the nadir of the much-criticised poll five years ago. But voters turned out in droves on Saturday to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, many taken aback by how peacefully the poll passed off.

Factbox: Main candidates in Afghanistan's presidential election

KABUL (Reuters) - Voting was under way in Afghanistan's presidential election on Saturday, with about 12 million people eligible to choose between eight candidates. Here are brief descriptions of the three leading contenders. ASHRAF GHANI AHMADZAI

Afghans vote in landmark election despite Taliban threat

Afghans braved the threat of Taliban violence Saturday to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power as US-led forces wind down their 13-year war. Long queues formed outside polling stations in cities across the country, despite cold, wet weather, as voters cast their ballots at around 6,000 centres under tight security. While voting in urban areas appeared brisk, it was not clear what turnout would be like in rural districts.
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