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Afghans Enjoy Successful Election Day

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2005 – The people of Afghanistan successfully voted in new leaders Sept. 18. Limited violence was reported near only a handful of voting stations, military officials said.

Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and international military forces ensured more than 12.5 million registered voters had an opportunity to participate in the National Assembly elections in a relatively safe and secure environment.

"It's a historical day that we have today. ... It will be good for our future, and we will have a good future," Jahwedolah, an Afghan police patrolman, said.

The election results will not be known for several weeks, said Army Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76. While the results will be important, he said, the significance of the election process and how many people participated should not be overlooked.

"We believe the real winners in this process are the people of Afghanistan, who courageously took a stand against years of violence and oppression and took a major step forward toward peace and prosperity," he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the Afghan government and people for completing the elections, saying it was evidence of Afghanistan's continuing progress toward democracy.

"The extremist elements that once again attempted to disrupt the electoral process have failed, and the Afghan people, as they courageously made their ways to the polls, demonstrated their determination to proceed down a democratic path," Rice said.

The results of these elections will lead to the seating of Afghanistan's National Assembly, the final step in the process begun four years ago to create the democratic institutions of a sovereign country, Rice said, adding that the U.S. will make sure that process is seen through to the end.

"The United States is firmly committed to help Afghans build a free, secure and prosperous future and applauds the Afghan people as they advance further on their democratic journey," she said.

About 30,000 members of the Afghan National Army and 50,000 Afghan National Police officers are in uniform providing security to it's the country's people and participating in operations designed to quell any resurgence of Taliban or other terrorist organizations.

"For three decades everything has come apart and been destroyed by war. No one had the freedom to vote for the president or the National Assembly. So today is the day we vote. ... It's a very important day," Afghan citizen Said Asem explained Sept. 18 at a polling site in Parwan.

Since Afghanistan's last successful election, when the Afghan majority democratically elected President Hamid Karzai into office, the strength of the government has increased, military officials said. It will only grow stronger as it will now be fueled by legitimately elected provincial representation from across Afghanistan, they added.

(Some information in this story provided by Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.)

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Biographies:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan



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