UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council welcomed the holding of the presidential and provincial council elections on Saturday in Afghanistan, urging all stakeholders in the country to respect the electoral institutions and processes.
"The members of the Council reiterate the importance of these historic elections to Afghanistan's transition and democratic development," said a statement issued to the press here by the 15-nation body.
"Members commend the participation and courage of the Afghan people to cast their ballot despite the threat and intimidation by the Taliban and other extremist and terrorist groups," the statement said.
The polling for Afghanistan's presidential election was held on Saturday in a largely peaceful manner despite some attacks and complaints, Afghan election officials said. The voters had also cast their votes for the provincial councils candidates at the same day.
The leading presidential candidates are former Foreign Ministers Abdullah Abdullah and Zulmai Rassoul, as well as former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
In the statement, the Security Council applauded the "Afghan-led efforts" to prepare for and hold these elections and recognize the important role of the Afghan electoral institutions, including the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, as well as the support provided by international partners.
"The members of the Security Council commend the performance of the Afghan National Security Forces in leading security arrangements for the elections, and call on the Afghan government, with the assistance of the international community, to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan," said the statement.
The Council condemned the actions of those who attempted to disrupt the elections, such as terrorist attacks against civilians including election personnel and candidates, as well as attacks against election infrastructure.
The Council members also condemned "violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups and illegal armed groups aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country."
"The members of the Security Council urge all stakeholders, including the candidates and their supporters, to be patient and respect the electoral institutions and processes," said the statement.
"The members look forward to the announcement of the final results of the elections by the IEC and look forward to working with the newly elected representatives of the people of Afghanistan," it added.
The preliminary results of the Afghan presidential election will come out on April 24 and the final result will be announced in mid May.
If any candidate does not receive 50 percent plus vote, then the polls will go for a second round between the top two candidates. The run-off, if needed, will be held on May 28.
WASHINGTON, April 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed the elections in Afghanistan as "critical" to securing its democratic future and continued international support, while pledging to continue the U.S. partnership with the new Afghan government. Full story
KABUL, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Afghans began voting on Saturday morning to elect a new president for the next five years in the first transfer of power through polling. The polling opened at 7:00 a.m. (local time) and will close at 4:00 p.m.
Polling for provincial council seats is also being held across the country. Full story