Nearly 180 Afghans were killed or injured in nearly 200 attacks take place at the polling stations inelection related violence on Saturday as Afghans went to the polls across Afghanistan. The legislative election turned chaotic with many polling centers opening hours late or not opened at all throughout the day due to technical glitches and lack of staff, according to the local media.
The parliamentary election took place after more than three years delay. The elections were due in 2015 but postponed because of security situation. These parliamentary elections are the third such elections to elect the new legislatures since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.
It is not easy to organise the elections in a war torn country. The government has no proper control over half of the country. The Taliban forces control mostly Pashtun dominated areas and Afghan government hardly has its writ in these areas.
In Afghan capital Kabul alone, 21 people died and nearly 100 injured in the several attacks on the polling centers. In the latest attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Kabul polling Centre, killing at least 15 people and wounding 20, according to the Kabul police.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the Taliban said earlier it had carried out more than 300 attacks on the “fake election” across the war-torn country. The violence and attacks on the polling stations disrupted the polling at many places.
Violence also disrupted voting in the northern city of Kunduz where a senior health official told AFP news agency three people died and 39 were wounded after more than 20 rockets rained down on the provincial capital.
An Independent Election Commission (IEC) employee was killed and seven others were missing after the Taliban attacked a polling Centre several kilometersfrom Kunduz city, destroying ballot boxes, provincial IEC director Mohammad Rasoul Omar told the local media.
Eight explosions were recorded in the eastern province of Nangarhar, with two people killed and five wounded, according to the spokesman of governor Nangarhar. There were 193 attacks across the country, which the ministry said was half the number recorded on the day of the 2014 presidential election.
Initial figures showed at least 1.5 million voters turned up at polling centers in 27 provinces, election organisers said, a fraction of the nearly nine million votersregistered with election authorities. Many voters waited hours to cast their ballots as polling delayed due to the absence of polling staff. Most polling sites opened late after teachers employed to handle the voting process failed to show up on time, said the IEC.
The election commission, which has been skewered over its shambolic preparations for the long-delayed ballot, said they would extend voting until Sunday for 371 polling centres after hiccups with voter registration lists, biometric verification devices and staffing.
Turnout was likely to be affected after the Taliban issued several warnings in the days leading up to the poll calling on candidates to withdraw from the race and for voters to stay home. Hundreds of people were killed or wounded in the months before the poll.
At least 10 candidates out of more than 2,500 contesting the lower-house election were killed ahead of the poll. Most of those standing are powerful political leaders, tribal chiefs, religious leaders and war lords. There are doctors, traders, mullahs and journalists among the candidates. But tribal chiefs, powerful religious leaders, war lords and rich people are most likely to win elections from their areas.
The poll is seen as a crucial test for next year’s presidential election and an important milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.
Preliminary results are scheduled to be released on November 10.There are concerns that the biometric verification devices can be broken, lost or destroyed.The independent, transparent and free and fair elections are still a distant dream.
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26 May, 2019