(CNSNews.com) - Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 to overthrow the Taliban regime and prevent al Qaeda from using the country as a sanctuary, Afghanistan has had three presidential elections.
Hamid Karzai was elected in the first two, held on Oct. 9, 2004 and Aug. 20, 2009, and was ineligible to run for a third term in the presidential election held on Saturday.
1,473 of the 2,192 U.S. casualties in the war in Afghanistan—or 62.7 percent—took place between Karzai’s second election in 2009 and the election on Saturday, according the CNSNews.com's database of casualties in the war.
The Department of Defense reported no U.S. casualties in Afghanistan in March, 2014. Afghanistan is still counting the votes from Saturday’s election. If no candidate wins 50 percent, there will be a run-off.
Hamid Karzai has governed Afghanistan since the 2001 fall of the Taliban. He was first elected democratically on October 9, 2004. “The first election, for president, was held on October 9, 2004, missing a June constitutional deadline. Turnout was about 80%. On November 3, 2004, Karzai was declared winner (55.4% of the vote) over his 17 challengers on the first round, avoiding a runoff. He was sworn in to office in December 2004, about one year before the swearing in of an elected National Assembly; he ruled by decree during that one-year period,” according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
Since Afghanistan’s first presidential election on October 9, 2004, U.S. troops have suffered 2,090 casualties in the country, of 95.3 percent of the 2,192 total casualties during the entirety of the war.
According to a State Department report, “President Hamid Karzai was elected to a second term in 2009, and parliamentary elections were last held in 2010. There were reports of widespread fraud and irregularities in both. Civilian authorities generally maintained control over the security forces, although there were instances in which security forces acted independently and sometimes committed human rights abuses.”
Despite its elected government, Afghanistan has severe human rights problems, according to the State Department.
“The most significant human rights problems were torture and abuse of detainees; increased targeted violence and endemic societal discrimination against women and girls; widespread violence, including armed insurgent groups’ killings of persons affiliated with the government and indiscriminate attacks on civilians; and pervasive official corruption,” the State Department said in its latest report on human rights in the country.
“Other human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces; poor prison conditions; ineffective government investigations of abuses and torture by local security forces; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of women accused of so-called moral crimes; prolonged pretrial detention; judicial corruption and ineffectiveness; violations of privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of speech and press; restrictions on freedom of religion; limits on freedom of movement; underage and forced marriages; abuse of children, including sexual abuse; discrimination and abuses against ethnic minorities; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities; societal discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status; abuse of worker rights; and sex and labor trafficking,” said the State Department report.