Business Standard

Low voter turnout, violence, logistical issues mar Afghan presidential polls


ANI Asia
Millions of people in Afghanistan braved persistent threats from the Taliban and cast their ballots on Saturday in the country's fourth presidential election marred by low voter turnout, logistical issues, fraud allegations and attacks.
More than a dozen candidates, including incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is seeking re-election and seen as the frontrunner, along with the country's chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Al Jazeera reported.
Voting began at around 7 am amid a tense atmosphere and fear of suicide attacks, as people exercised their franchise. Several thousand Afghani Forces have been deployed across the country to provide security.
Many people complained that their names were missing from voter rolls and the biometric identification machines -- a first in this year's presidential election in a bid to reduce fraud -- developed technical issues or officers not adequately trained on how to use them, Al Jazeera reported.
Low turnouts were reported in certain parts of the war-torn country, including in Herat, Nangarhar and Bamiyan provinces to name a few. Even in capital Kabul, the low turnout was reported till 10 am, three hours after polling began.
Several prominent leaders had also cast their ballots and urged the people to come out in large numbers and exercise their franchise.
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) struggled to calculate exact figures from hundreds of polling sites, as attacks blocked highways or blew up communication towers snapping telecom signals in several parts of the country, according to The New York Times.
As these issues persisted, polling was extended from 3 pm to 5 pm (local time).
During the polling, a blast had hit a polling centre in southern Kandahar city, with casualties being feared.
Nevertheless, people exercised their franchise in hope that Afghanistan would soon limp back to normalcy and the new government would have its task cut out to bring back on track the US-Taliban peace talks, which was suspended earlier this month.
Preliminary results are not expected to be announced before October 17 and final results not until November 7. If no candidate gets at least 51 per cent of the vote, a second round will be held between the two leading candidates.
Ghani thanked the citizens for their commitment to a democratic and a prosperous Afghanistan.
"I thank all Afghans for their commitment to democracy and to a prosperous and sovereign Afghanistan. Participation in the elections indicates a commitment to the Constitution of Afghanistan. Elections determine the continuation of the democratic system in Afghanistan," he said.
Nearly 9.6 million people had registered to vote in the election, according to the IEC.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Sep 29 2019 | 5:22 AM IST

Explore News