KABUL (Reuters) – Voting started on Saturday to elect a president for Afghanistan with greater than 9 million Afghan registered voters probably heading to the polls amid assaults in a number of cities.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah poses as he casts his vote at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Fourteen candidates are registered however the race will seemingly come all the way down to incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his former deputy Abdullah Abdullah. The winner will play an important position within the nation’s quest to finish the battle with the Taliban and the resumption of talks between the insurgents and america that had been referred to as off earlier this month.
The hardline rebel group, which controls extra of the nation than at anytime since its regime was toppled in 2001, has threatened voters to avoid the election or face dire penalties.
To guard voters and polling stations from Taliban assaults tens of hundreds of Afghan forces had been deployed throughout 34 provinces.
About 9.6 million of Afghanistan’s 34 million individuals are registered to vote for one of many 14 candidates at round 5,000 polling facilities that will probably be protected by some 100,000 Afghan forces with air help from U.S. forces.
“Bravado will get outlined when one musters braveness to solid their vote in Afghanistan,” stated Roya Jahangir, a physician primarily based within the capital of Kabul.
Jahangir stated she and her husband will solid their votes even when it means standing in lengthy queues for hours.
“We hope this time there isn’t a fraud — in any other case voters will really feel cheated as soon as once more.”
Media confirmed traces of women and men outdoors quite a few polling stations, indicating sturdy turnout in some areas.
Within the northern province of Balkh, voters waited for election officers to reach at polling stations arrange in colleges, faculties, mosques, hospital campuses and district centres.
An explosion inside a polling station within the southern Afghan metropolis of Kandahar was confirmed by native officers, as witnesses stated an ambulance rushed to the world.
Bahir Ahmadi, a spokesman for Kandahar’s provincial governor, confirmed the explosion and stated up to now three wounded had been transferred to the hospital.
Explosions additionally hit the Afghan cities of Kabul, Ghazni and Jalalabad, officers stated.
POLLING STATIONS CLOSED
Greater than 400 polling facilities will stay closed as a result of they’re located in areas below Taliban management. A whole bunch extra will probably be closed due to safety issues.
The voting course of is one other supply of concern. The nation’s Impartial Election Fee (IEC) has come below criticism for issuing contradictory and unclear statements over what processes will probably be in place to forestall fraud if biometric programs fail in the course of the eight hours of voting.
4 of the 18 candidates registered to contest for the highest job have dropped out of the race, however their names stay on the biometric voting units.
Chief contenders Ghani and his former deputy Abdullah each got here to energy in 2014 after a bitterly contested election marred by fraud.
Afghanistan’s political scene continues to be tainted by the aftermath of that disputed presidential vote which pressured the 2 fundamental rival groupings to type an unstable partnership. Either side had been accused of huge electoral dishonest.
The Taliban claimed to have attacked a number of voting stations in Kunar, Ghazni, Paktia and Parwan provinces, however the reviews couldn’t be instantly confirmed.
Western safety sources and Afghan officers stated that they had requested native media to not sensationalize threats and assaults, involved that they might discourage voting.
The election is the fourth presidential vote for the reason that fall of the Taliban to U.S.-led forces.
Extra reporting by Mustafa Andalib in Ghazni, Sarawar Amani, Ismail Samim in Kandahar, Anwarullah Mohabbat in Paktia, Matin Sahak in Balkh, Storay Karimi in Herat, Ahmad Sultan and Rafiq Shirzad in Nangarhar, Orooj Hakimi in Kabul; Writing by Rod Nickel; Enhancing by Christian Schmollinger