UN, NATO praise Afghan voters for turning out despite Taliban's threats

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Kabul, Sept 19 (ANI): The United Nations and NATO have praised voters for turning out for Saturday's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, despite a Taliban threat not to vote in the name of "jihad".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Afghan voters had shown "courage and determination."

NATO forces chief Gen David Petraeus also praised the voters, saying the voice of Afghanistan's future belonged to the people, not to extremists.

"As a whole, I would rate this election successful. The people of Afghanistan sent a powerful message that the voice of Afghanistan's future does not belong to violent extremists and terror networks. It belongs to the people," Petraeus added.

The turnout has initially been put at about 40 percent. However, many fraud cases have been reported that might be affect the results of the poll, the BBC reports.

There were also widespread reports of violence across the country, and many deaths, but the Taliban and other insurgents failed to derail the vote.

However the UN envoy to the country, Staffan de Mistura, said that it was premature to describe the vote as a success, and added, that despite some security problems, there were many other parts of the country where the vote had been "enthusiastic".

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, a monitoring group, said it had found "extensive irregularities" and urged the Independent Election Commission "to ensure the integrity of the rest of the electoral process".

Earlier, the Taliban had warned voters to boycott the poll and "stick to jihad".

Preliminary results would reportedly be announced on September 22 this year. (ANI)

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