Obama congratulates Afghan voters on high election turnout
Afghan residents wishing to vote line up underneath underneath Afghan flags outside a polling station in Mazar-i-Sharif on April 5, 2014 (FARSHAD USYAN/AFP/Getty Images)
April 5th, 2014
06:22 PM ET
9 months ago

Obama congratulates Afghan voters on high election turnout

(CNN) – President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the high turnout of voters in the first democratic transfer of presidential power in Afghanistan's history.

Increased violence ahead of the elections threatened to keep voters home, but long lines at polling centers across the country showed the determination of the Afghan people to have their voices heard.

As the U.S. draws down its forces in Afghanistan, the President called on officials to follow through on the election results.

"We look to the Afghan electoral bodies to carry out their duties in the coming weeks to adjudicate the results - knowing that the most critical voices on the outcome are those of Afghans themselves," Obama said in a statement.

(Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

(Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

Allegations of fraud overshadowed the last elections held in 2009, when President Hamid Karzai was elected to a second term.

Karzai is constitutionally bound to step down when his current term runs out.

Disagreements over the role of U.S. security forces in Afghanistan have led to tensions between Karzai and Obama.

The Afghan leader has refused to sign a U.S.-Afghanistan bilateral security agreement, while the two leading candidates in Saturday's election have said they would.

Obama praised high Afghan interest in the election.

"We commend the Afghan people, security forces, and elections officials on the turnout for today's vote - which is in keeping with the spirited and positive debate among candidates and their supporters in the run-up to the election."

Nearly 1,000 polling sites were closed because of security concerns and officials told CNN that 20 Afghans were killed in violence Saturday. However, a heavy security presence across the country met with relatively little trouble and ensured that the vote went largely smoothly.

(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

(Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Preliminary results will be announced later this month.

Secretary of State John Kerry added his own praise for the many Afghans who risked their lives to cast their vote.

"The fierce determination of the millions of voters undeterred by violence and threats of violence has been remarkable," Kerry said in a statement.

Obama also called attention to America's investment in democracy and peace in Afghanistan.

"We also pay tribute to the many Americans - military and civilian - who have sacrificed so much to support the Afghan people as they take responsibility for their own future," Obama said.

However, both Obama and Kerry signaled that American investment in the future of Afghanistan is not over, even as U.S. troops leave.

"The United States remains ready to work with the next president of Afghanistan. We will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan as they work to build a democratic future," Kerry said in his statement.

With eight candidates in the running there is the possibility that no candidate wins a majority in the first round, resulting in a runoff vote that would take place next month.

– CNN's Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Elections • Hamid Karzai • John Kerry • President Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. just saying

    we need to do the blue finger dip in this country to keep the corrupt democrats from having people vote multiple times in multiple locations.

    April 5, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. Smitty

    This will be another epic fail. Once Obumbles puts his slimy hands on anything it gets afu. Just a fact, look at his history too many failures too count. Hows the jobs pivot.??

    April 5, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Namebo the dog
    Georgia happened onobamas watch
    ----–
    Obama was elected in Nov. 2008 and was sworn in on Jan. 21, 2009. In the summer of 2008, Bush was the resident of the White House when Putin went into Georgia. You appear to be the same high caliber genius who tunes into regularly to Hannity.

    April 5, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  4. Chris-E...al

    Yea 0bama knows it never hurts to be pro-active on asylum possibilities ?

    April 5, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Chris-E...al
    T.Tim @ Would you throw a shoe at Bush that hard ?
    ----–
    I know, you think that the Bush Doctrine created world wide good feelings because W could duck shoes thrown at him out of hate.

    April 5, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. basedonfact

    Wouldn't it be something if Americans cared about their right to vote as much as people in the rest of the world?

    April 5, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    The Afghan people risked their lives to vote. what is our excuse? we have idiots in congress because good people are too busy or too disinterested to bother voting. we're never going to have good government until everyone realizes voting isn't just a 'right,' it's a responsibility, a sacred duty to our country to participate in the democratic process our founding fathers gave us and people fought and died to protect. yes, it's ugly and nasty, but it matters to all our lives who gets in office, never more than now when our very existence as a species is on the line. not paying attention is not an option any more. not if we want our kids to have a livable planet.

    April 5, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. Chris-E...al

    They ! 0ur hero's are flying F-16's in hostile air ! Not sparing the rod while we play with matches here at home and they MAKE it where we can play ? And dems hate it so much they closed cuba bay ???

    April 6, 2014 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  9. Chris-E...al

    They ! 0ur hero's are flying F-16's in hostile air ! Not sparing the rod while we play with matches here at home and they MAKE it where we can play ? And dems hate it so much they closed cuba bay ??? yea rite ! keep it open plz thx .

    April 6, 2014 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  10. Gurgyl

    Do you think these Muslim nations are still ready for democracy? I doubt. Please do not go into plane where there are Muslim pilots in there, I am doubting about Malaysian flight now. Fire all Muslim pilots first.

    April 6, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  11. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Congrats afganies on your success getting rid of the CURRUPT karazi and standing up to the religious extremest lowlife Taliban losers! We have our one telaban like GOP losers and religious FREEKS over here. And watching the fox GOP propaganda channel and the dufus Chris Wallace is enough to make you vote democratic and kick out ALL republicans.

    April 6, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  12. Chris Asking Question

    Does it sound like President Obama and Secretary Kerry want to keep US forces to stay and die in Afghanistan? UBL was killed in May 2011 in PAKISTAN. Why are US forces still in Afghanistan? How many more flag-draped transfer cases and coffins do they need?

    April 6, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  13. Liz the First

    just saying
    we need to do the blue finger dip in this country to keep the corrupt democrats from having people vote multiple times in multiple locations.
    _________
    this is the kind of nonsense the 'right' actually believes. hey, just saying, do you believe in the tooth fairy, too? it's been proven this is a non-issue. the handful of voter fraud incidents don't warrant the disenfranchising of hundreds of thousands of likely voters. it's like going after a house fly with a howitzer! it's a party trying to win by changing the rules. i'm guessing you wouldn't do that because you're probably a decent person, gullible, but decent. why do you support a party that cheats?

    April 6, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Has the RNC been in contact with the Taliban to pick up more tips on voter suppression? Its seems as though thats the only way either can win national elections. Say, is there anyone in the Taliban who is comparable to Ted Nugent?

    April 6, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Lizzie

    Liz the First, so 800 fraudulent votes don't make a difference, now we all know how you feel how Al Franken a DEMOCRAT was elected.

    April 6, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Chris-E...al

    tim@ Everyone knows iraq had WMD,s They used them on his own . And they said they would use them on Americans ! What would dems do ? Say peace and send them a barge filled with oil maybe ?

    April 6, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Chris-E...al, Democrats were consistent in their opposition to Saddam while the GOP under Reagan was more than willing to use them as cannon fodder against Iran for almost a decade. We supplied Saddam with intelligence and weapons that he turned around on his own people. It would help when you make your brad accusations to actually have a working knowledge of the facts, instead of your own bigotry on display. We allowed them to get chemical weapons because it fulfilled a short-term policy goal for us, despite vehement opposition from people across the spectrum, from Claiiborne Pell to Al D'Amato.

    April 6, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. don in albuquerque

    Chris-

    Chris-E

    Well if they had WMD's, where did they go? Couldn't find them. I know-Obama secretly hid them in the desert. Thats right, buried them all by himself, and he also helped Sitting Bull at the Little Bighorn. That rascal.

    April 6, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Tampa Tim

    Chris – everyone knew that Iraq had no WMDs after the first gulf war. Where do you get this garbage? W's war on Iraq was built on lies. My God, read something.

    April 6, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Chris-E...al

    @ tom p . Your right own everything in that post ! But i am no bigot . thts a lie .

    April 6, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. S. B. Stein

    If only all Americans would bother to take the time to vote. All citizens need to do that every election.

    April 6, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  22. henry

    The republicans tell you in your face at least, the democrats put a nice face on it then....*** you!, In 2016 vote independent or go green, enough of the slaughter!!

    April 6, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  23. Chuck

    When is Stompy Foot coming home?

    April 7, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |