KABUL, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan's outgoing President Hamid Karzai on Saturday morning cast his vote in the presidential election runoff.
The Afghan leader along with other high-ranking officials arrived at Amani High School, which is close to the presidential palace, at around 7:45 a.m. to cast vote.
Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive five-year term, urged all Afghan voters to take part in the election process.
"Today is a historic day in Afghanistan. I urge all Afghans to visit the polling centers and cast their votes for a bright future, for a new president and for a new government," Karzai said.
The runoff election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai leads the country into a new era with declining international military and civilian assistance.
The two entered a runoff after none of the eight candidates obtained an outright victory or more than half of the valid votes in the first round held on April 5.
According to the final results of the April 5 election, Abdullah secured 45 percent of some 7 million votes, and Ahmadzai won 31.6 percent.
Afghans began voting earlier on Saturday to elect a new president for the next five years in the first transfer of power through polling in the country's history.
The polling opened at 7:00 a.m. (local time) and will close at 4:00 p.m. with people standing in long lines in Kabul and other big cities at the wee hours of the day.
More than 12 million eligible voters, 35 percent of them women, are expected to cast their ballots in the one-day election across the war-torn country.
The preliminary results of the runoff will be clear on July 2 while the final result of the polls will be announced on July 22.
Security remains the biggest challenge for the elections. Earlier on Saturday, at least three rockets were fired by Taliban insurgents in Kabul, causing no casualties.
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