Afghans ignore Taliban threats, vote again in final test

Written by Reuters | Kabul, Afghanistan | Updated: Jun 16 2014, 07:31am hrs
Millions of Afghans turned out for a second time on Saturday to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, a decisive test of the country's ambitions to transfer power democratically for the first time in its tumultuous history.

Most foreign troops will leave by the end of 2014, and whoever takes over from Karzai will inherit a troubled country plagued by an assertive Taliban insurgency and an economy crippled by corruption and the weak rule of law.

The run-off pitted former anti-Taliban fighter Abdullah Abdullah against ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani after neither secured the 50% majority needed to win outright in the first round on April 5.Violence spiked on the day as militants launched hundreds of attacks with rockets, explosives and gunfire, leaving at least 20 civilians dead, along with a further 11 police and 15 army personnel, the interior ministry said.

But clashes did not deter millions of voters from turning out and feared high-profile attacks did not materialise.