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Friday
Apr042014

Afghans Head to the Polls Saturday to Pick New President

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- This Saturday’s presidential election in Afghanistan will mark the first time an elected government in that country will hand over power to another elected government.

Afghans will go to the polls for the first nationwide election in five years to pick a successor to outgoing President Hamid Karzai. Abdullah Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani and Zalmai Rassoul lead a field of 11 presidential candidates.

Abdullah said last week he believes he'll get enough of the popular vote in the crowded field of candidates to avoid a run-off. Abdullah supports the Bilateral Security Agreement that would keep a residual force of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan following the planned pullout of most coalition soldiers by the end of 2014. Karzai has declined to sign it.

There are 12 million people eligible to vote, but officials expect a turnout of about five million.

The Taliban has promised to continue a campaign of violence to disrupt the election.

There will be 200,000 observers in place to monitor the voting process, which will take place at more than 28,000 polling stations.

Afghan election officials say 350,000 Afghan security troops will be deployed to keep the election process safe.

The officials also revealed that 3,000 donkeys will be used to transport ballot boxes on Saturday.

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