April 5 - EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton called Afghanistan's presidential election a ''historic moment'' as Afghans turned out in higher than expected numbers to cast their ballots. Mana Rabiee reports.
In the dark of night, Afghan election workers wrap up what had been a historic day. Afghans cast their ballot for a new president on Saturday. The first ever democratic transfer of power in their country's violent history. Voter turnout was higher than expected and polls stayed open much later than planned. A world away in Athens, Greece, foreign ministers of the European Union had gathered for meetings. They're hopeful, but also cautious, about this moment in Afghan history. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF CATHERINE ASHTON, SPEAKING ABOUT AFGHANISTAN, SAYING: "This will be a historic moment, if we get this right, this democratic transition...The latest information I have has been that things are going forward and we wait to see now what the results will bring." Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANS TIMMERMANS, SAYING: "It is encouraging to see so many young people saying, regardless of the violence, I want to cast my vote. So its a bit hot and cold, on the one hand you can be encouraged by the fact that so many people want to use their democratic right to vote, and on the other hand it is still impossible to have a meaningful observer mission in Afghanistan because it is too dangerous." Saturday's voting was largely peaceful. There were only isolated attacks on polling stations. This, in a country racked by decades of war and during an election Taliban insurgents had vowed to derail.