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U.S. Embassy In Kabul Hosts Election Party

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: This is Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Kabul. The room at the Serena Hotel was packed with Americans and Afghans who watched the results being broadcast on a big screen. Nearby were life-sized cutouts of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain and tables packed with stickers and buttons from both campaigns. Organizers even set up an unofficial polling station for Afghan visitors to cast ballots. The result: 74 to three for Obama. One voter who cast a pretend ballot was Jamila Mujahed who runs the Voice Of Afghan Women radio station here.

SARHADDI NELSON: Do you like Obama? Did you vote for Obama? Why?

M: Well, Obama is a very strong man, young, with a good idea.

SARHADDI NELSON: How do you think he will help Afghanistan?

M: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: She believes, like many here, that Obama will pay more attention to Afghanistan and bring needed security and development. Sebghatullah Sanjar, who heads President Hamid Karzai's policy department and Afghanistan's Republican Party, was one of the few Afghans who voted for McCain in the pretend election.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: He says he supported McCain because he has more experience than Obama. He spent his life fighting for democracy, both in the military and political arena. Outside the hotel, U.S. and Afghan security forces blanketed the area to prevent any incidents like the one at the Serena where Taliban gunmen and bombers in January killed six people. But Afghan police say earlier in another part of Kabul, militants fired a rocket that killed one Afghan in his home. The militants were targeting nearby NATO bases. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.