Afghanistan began voting early on Saturday in a run-off election for a new President amid security concerns.
Thousands of Afghans lined up at polling centres from early morning to cast their ballots.
“The polls are open now. I call on all the people to go to the polling stations and make their destiny despite security challenges,” Election Commission chief Yousuf Nooristani said after casting his own ballot.
“The people’s votes will transfer the power from one elected President to another for the first time.” He said 6,365 voting centres and 23,136 stations are open.
Voting would be from 7 am (0130 GMT) to 4 pm (1130 GMT), with a possible extension depending on the turnout.
Explosions were heard in Kabul before the vote. “There were two or three remote control bomb explosions in Kabul,” Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said. “But no casualties were reported.” Insecurity and fraud remain the top concerns for election day, according to officials.
Afghan capital Kabul was in a near lockdown, with thousands of security forces deployed in the streets, and around 400,000 across the country, according to officials.
About 12 million people are eligible to vote, according to the Election Commission.
Out of the eight candidates that contested the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential election, two go head-to-head in Saturday’s run-off.
Abdullah Abdullah, an ophthalmologist and former foreign minister, led the first round with 45 per cent of the votes. His rival, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, trailed with 31 per cent.
They are both seasoned politicians and technocrats who have campaigned on a message of change.
Whoever wins, it will mark the first time a democratically elected president will hand over power to another. President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled the country since the 2001 Taliban ouster, is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term.