Afghans see hope in chance to choose new leader - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Afghans see hope in chance to choose new leader

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Although the Taliban have denied responsibility for today's shooting attack in Afghanistan that killed an Associated Press photographer and wounded a correspondent, the militants have vowed to disrupt tomorrow's nationwide elections with violence.

Some recent high-profile attacks in the heart of Kabul appear designed to show that they are capable of doing that.

If voters turn out in large numbers tomorrow, and the Afghans are able to hold a successful election, it could undermine the Taliban's appeal by showing that democracy can indeed work.

President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally barred from a third term. Afghans will choose a new president in what promises to be the nation's first democratic transfer of power. Three men are considered top contenders to succeed Karzai -- and there don't appear to be any major policy differences toward the West among them.

As international combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of the year, Afghanistan remains so unstable that the fact that elections are being held is touted as one of the few successes in Karzai's tenure.

205-a-12-(German Brigadier General Heinz Feldman, chief spokesman for the coalition military in Afghanistan, in AP interview)-"centers for example"-German Brigadier General Heinz Feldman, the coalition military's chief spokesman, says Afghan and coalition troops have been working on election security plans for months.

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