President Obama said Saturday that Afghanistan’s presidential election marks another important milestone in establishing democracy as U.S. troops and allies gradually withdraw.
Suicide bombings and other attacks have been on the rise leading up to the elections and dozens of polling centers didn’t open because of gunfire and rocket attacks.
Still, millions of Afghans went to the polls Saturday to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.
“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the millions of Afghans who enthusiastically participated in today’s historic elections, which promise to usher in the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history and which represent another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country,” Mr. Obama said.
The president also thanked the many Americans who have sacrificed so much to help the Afghan people, “as they take responsibility for their own future.”
“We look to the Afghan electoral bodies to carry out their duties in the coming weeks to adjudicate the results - knowing that the most critical voices on the outcome are those of Afghans themselves,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry also praised the Afghan people for turning out in such high numbers in spite of threats by the Taliban to disrupt the process.
“The fierce determination of the millions of voters undeterred by violence and threats of violence has been remarkable,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement, CNN reported.
“The United States remains ready to work with the next president of Afghanistan. We will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan as they work to build a democratic future.”
More than 7 million ballots were cast and final results may not be known for a week or longer. There are eight candidates in the running.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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