MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) – Afghanistan’s presidential elections on Saturday were successful even though there was no independent monitoring of voting outside major cities and towns, Brian Cloughley, the former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“The authorities deserve praise,” he said. “It is most satisfactory that Afghanistan's presidential elections were not interrupted by the Taliban or other militants, and that so many people were able to vote."
A runoff election is scheduled for May 28, as none of the candidates reached the threshold of 50 percent needed to win.
“It has to be hoped that there will be a repetition of the circumstances in which this election was held [during the runoff],” Cloughley said.
Front-runner Abdullah Abdullah is the most likely candidate to emerge victorious, despite corruption allegations made against him, Cloughley thinks.
Fifty-eight percent of the country’s 12 million eligible voters took part in Saturday’s presidential elections, according to the head of the election commission.
In a landmark for democracy in the country, the elections passed without major violence despite the threat of Taliban attacks.
The new president will succeed Hamid Karzai, who has been in power since 2001 and could not run for a third consecutive term due to term limits.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the vote an important step towards the first democratic regime change in Afghanistan’s history.