International monitors are praising Afghanistan for this week's
elections, but say it is too soon to determine whether the process was
free and fair.
Observers with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
said Saturday the presidential and provincial elections were held "in
accordance with democratic principles" even though there were serious
The European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan called
the election process "largely positive" while saying the election could
not be considered entirely free because of the threat of violence.
At least one group says the Taliban fulfilled their threat to target voters.
Nader Nadery with the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan
tells VOA his observers saw Taliban cut off the ink-stained fingers of
two voters in Kandahar province on Thursday, the day of the election.
Afghan voters dipped their fingers in purple ink in order to prevent fraud.
National Democratic Institute monitor Gary Hart, a former U.S. senator,
said Saturday he did not know of any other country where voter turnout
would have been as high as it was in Afghanistan, given the threat of
Officials in Afghanistan and around the world had been worried that the
threat of violence and retaliation by the Taliban would keep many
Afghans from voting.
NDI monitors said turnout was "fairly light" with fewer women going to the polls than expected.
Earlier, the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute called the
Afghan election "credible," despite reports of serious irregularities,
including ballot-stuffing and faulty voting equipment.
Both top candidates -- incumbent President Hamid Karzai and former
Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah -- say they have enough votes to win
without a runoff. But preliminary results are not expected until early
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission has urged presidential
candidates to wait for official results before declaring victory in
U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Afghans on Friday for voting
despite threats from extremists. Mr. Obama said the election is an
"important step forward."