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Baird praises Afghans after high turnout

Baird praises Afghans after high turnoutAn Afghan woman puts her finger into an ink bottle to mark herself as a voter who attended an election at a polling station in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Mustafa Najafizada

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Afghans have demonstrated their commitment to a democratic future, and now a new government must demonstrate that commitment as well.

Baird commented after Afghans defied a threat of Taliban violence and flocked to polling stations on Saturday in numbers so high that some centres ran out of ballots, and others stayed open late.

Baird noted that an unprecedented number of Afghan women turned out.<

Voters are choosing from a field of eight presidential candidates, and a runoff is widely expected since none is likely to get the majority needed for an outright victory.<

President Hamid Karzai was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

Partial results are expected as early as Sunday.

“The new government must demonstrate its commitment to a democratic Afghanistan where the voices of all Afghans, especially women, are heard,” Baird said in a statement.

Canada's mission in Afghanistan officially came to an end last month when the last 100 troops, who had been helping train Afghan police and security forces, returned home.

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