Polls have closed in Afghanistan’s long-awaited parliamentary elections, with large numbers of voters defying deadly attacks to cast their ballots. Most polling stations in the country opened on Saturday at 7am (02:30 GMT) and were scheduled to close at 4pm (12:30 GMT). But voting was extended to Sunday at 6pm (13:30 GMT) as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said they gave voters more time to cast their ballot because of a lack of voter materials at some polling stations and problems with the electronic voter system. Zabih Ullah Sadat, deputy spokesperson for the commission, told Al Jazeera that 250 polling centres “opened at 9am on Sunday and remained open until all the voters had cast their ballots”. Vote counting is under way and preliminary results are expected within 20 days. The electoral body has until December 20 to release the final results.
“The extension of polling will not cause delays in the release of the final results,” Sadat said.
Close to nine million Afghans registered to vote in the elections, the third since the Taliban armed group was pushed out of power in 2001.
More than 2,500 candidates, including 417 women, are vying for a seat in the country’s 250-member parliament.