Voters wait to cast their ballots at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Bamyan, Afghanistan. Image Source: IANS

Kabul, Oct 21 : The President of Afghanistan on Sunday officially announced that voting in the Afghan parliamentary elections had closed, with initial data from the election commission estimating that over four million eligible voters exercised their democratic rights over the weekend.

President Ashraf Ghani made the remarks in a televised speech broadcast nationwide, Efe reported.

"The great nation of Afghanistan, thank you! By casting your votes, you proved to the world that you don't want violence. You proved your will for democracy," the leader said, highlighting the large turnout despite the persistent threat of violence from the Taliban insurgent group.

"You proved to the Taliban that no one can bring this nation under their control by force," Ghani added.

At least 27 civilians and 10 members of the security forces were killed and over 100 were injured during the two-day voting period as the Taliban launched over 250 separate attacks in a bid to stop people from voting.

Ghani described those killed during the election process as martyrs for democracy who sacrificed themselves for the democratic hopes of future generations.

He also highlighted the role of women, whether as candidates or as voters, as a success for Afghan democracy.

Abdulbadi Sayyad, chairman for the independent election commission in Afghanistan, told a press conference that around four million people - of which 33 percent were women - cast their votes across 32 provinces.

"Forty-five percent of eligible voters (of which there are 8.8 million) have taken part in this election," he said, proclaiming it a success.

Around 401 polling stations that were kept closed Saturday due to security threats had been scheduled to reopen the following day.

However, only 76 of those were functioning throughout Sunday, Sayyad said.

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