Following the current elections going on in the country, the run-off election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani would lead the country into a new era with declining international military and civilian assistance.
The current President Hamid Karzai is due to step down after ruling the country since 2001 when a US-led offensive ousted the austere Taliban regime for sheltering al-Qaeda militants behind the 9/11 attacks.
Afghan officials and international allies are hoping for a repeat of the first-round vote in April when the insurgents failed to launch a single high-profile attack and voter turnout was more than 50%. But the stakes are high with the Taliban issuing specific threats to target polling stations and widespread fears that electoral fraud could produce a contested result.
In a sign of international concern, UN head of mission Jan Kubis issued a stark warning to candidates’ supporters not to resort to the ballot-box stuffing that marred the 2009 election when Karzai retained power. He also advised that they not commit fraud or use intimidation or manipulation to favour candidate.