Afghan vote 'generally fair, not free everywhere'

Afghanistan's landmark elections this week were generally good and fair, but not free in some parts of the country due to violence and intimidation, the chief EU election observer said on Saturday.

"Free was not the case in some parts of the territory due to terror installed," EU chief election observer Philippe Morillon told reporters.

"Fair -- generally what we have observed was considered by our observers with our methodology good and fair," he added, stressing it was still early days in assessing the presidential and provincial council elections.

The election, which took place on Thursday, has been widely hailed as a success by the international community, which has pumped billions into Afghanistan and deployed 100,000 troops to contain a Taliban insurgency.

"We can say it is a victory, a victory for the Afghan people," Morillon told a news conference in Kabul.

The EU Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan said in a statement based on its preliminary findings that participation was "considerably higher in the north of the country and particularly low in the south."

"Election day was marred by a number of violent incidents, including rocket attacks and explosions targeting polling centres and government facilities throughout the country," the statement said.

Observers watch as Afghan election workers count votes at a polling station in Kabul, on August 21

The Taliban call on Afghans to boycott the vote was "supplemented by an increasing number of attacks, resulting in civilian injuries and deaths.

"Despite these significant deterrents, Afghan citizens came out to cast their votes," it said, adding: "That the election took place at all is a notable achievement."

President Hamid Karzai and his main rival former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah have both cited figures from their own election observers across the country as showing them in the lead.

The Independent Election Commission has said the victor will not be announced until September 3.

source AFP

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