Afghans Vote in Historic Election

American leaders praised the millions of Afghans who voted for a new President Saturday. “The open and responsible debate among the candidates over the past two months, and the turnout for these elections, demonstrates to the world that the Afghan people want to determine their own future,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in an April 5 statement. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the relatively peaceful election is a “reason to celebrate in Afghanistan,” noting millions of Afghans turned out to vote at “more than 6,000 polling sites … Clearly this is an important step in the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history,” said Dempsey in a separate statement. He said US officials “look forward to the outcome of the elections and the opportunity to continue to work together, with a willing partner, for a better Afghanistan.” However, he also acknowledged the thousands of Afghan and coalition forces who lost their lives during the war, saying Saturday’s success did not come “without significant sacrifice.” It will take six weeks for all the results to come in and for President Hamid Karzai’s successor to be named, reported Reuters. “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,” said President Barack Obama in an April 5 statement.