Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Ballots and bullets -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: There's been more violence in Afghanistan just one day before the country's presidential election.

One foreign journalist has been shot dead while another has been badly wounded. It's the latest incident in a campaign of intimidation by the Taliban which has already left dozens dead.

Even so, millions of Afghans will still head to the polls tomorrow to elect a successor to outgoing President, Hamid Karzai.

South Asia correspondent Mike Edwards reports.

MICHAEL EDWARDS, REPORTER: The threat of Taliban violence has cast a dark shadow over the election and security forces are on high alert, doing what they can to keep the militants at bay.

UMER DAUDZAI, AFGHAN INTERIOR MINISTER: We are committed to facilitate transportation of national and international advisers and to provide sufficient security for their work.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Taliban has already had a deadly impact on the campaign, attacks have targeted electoral officials and foreign journalists. The latest strike has seen the AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus shot dead by a man dressed as a police officer in the eastern city of Khost. Her colleague, reporter Cathy Gannen, was also shot and is badly wounded.

Last month a prominent Afghan journalist was killed alongside eight other people when Taliban gunman opened fire inside a heavily fortified luxury hotel in the centre of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban's goal is simple - make people too scared to come out to vote.

MOHAMMAD RAFI, KABUL RESIDENT (TRANSLATED): If there are security threats and fears then nobody will vote. I myself will not vote in such conditions but, as we see, there is very tight security.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The election marks a turning point for Afghanistan. It brings to an end the tenure of President Hamid Karzai and will mark the first time a peaceful transition of power has taken place.

HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATED): A strong participation will be the greatest response to those who believe violence and destruction will act as a deterrent against our people.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Three candidates stand out as the front runners, Zalmai Rassoul and Abdullah Abdullah are both former foreign ministers. And the third Arshaf Ghani served the country as Finance Minister.

For whoever wins, the big challenge will be security, especially as Western forces pull out later this year.

President Karzai has so far refused to sign on to a bilateral security agreement with the United States that would leave behind a contingent of troops to help local forces. All of the current candidates say they'll sign the BSA, a move many Afghans feel is essential for the country's future.

The last presidential election was marred by allegations of voter fraud and the task of securing a fair ballot this time around is no easier for electoral officials. There are more than 28,000 polling centres and at least 10 per cent of these are expected to be closed due to security threats.

Michael Edwards, Lateline.