Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) Vote counting following last Sunday's Afghan elections began yesterday. Results will determine who will sit in parliament and who will preside over the country's 34 provincial councils. However, the first results are not expected before two weeks.
About 6 million Afghans took part in the elections. Although turnout was good at just over 50 per cent, it fell far short of the 67 per cent recorded in the October 2004 presidential election won by Hamid Karzai. For the Afghan people this was the first parliamentary elections since 1969.
World leaders, including US President George W. Bush, hailed the vote as a success and praised those who voted for braving threats of violence by the members of the ousted Taleban regime.
More than 120,000 sealed ballot boxes were taken to the country's 32 official counting centres.
At the counting centre in Kabul, dozens of trucks lined up in the sun to unload the boxes, monitored by election observers and security forces.
"The intake of ballots is still going on and in some parts it will take a few days. They don't need 100 per cent intake to start counting but they need the majority," said Bronwyn Curran, a spokeswoman for the joint United Nations-Afghan body in charge of the vote.
One truck carrying ballot boxes in the eastern province of Nangarhar was badly damaged by a roadside bomb late on Sunday, but no one was injured.
"This count is subject to a short complaints period and these complaints must be adjudicated," said electoral chief Peter Erben. "Depending on the number . . . we do hope that we can have a final certified result for all 34 provinces by October 22."
Afghanistan will then face an even tougher taskforming a stable government with a parliament that includes warlords, former communists and Taleban rebels.