Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

Afghans vote amid chaos, corruption and Taliban threats

  • Print


An Afghan woman casts her vote during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday.

Reuters, Kabul :
Afghans voted on Saturday in parliamentary elections overshadowed by chaotic organization, allegations of corruption and violence that has forced a postponement of the vote in the strategic southern province of Kandahar.
With Taliban insurgents controlling large areas of the country, thousands being killed in the fighting and doubts about the success of the U.S. strategy to force the insurgents to accept peace talks by stepping up air strikes, the credibility of the Western-backed government is at stake.
Several security incidents marred the polling day, with three police killed and at least eight people wounded by explosions in Kabul. Clashes erupted between the Taliban and the security forces in at least three provinces. But wider election concerns so far have centered on technical and organizational problems with biometric voter registration equipment, polling stations not opening on time, missing election materials and delays forcing lengthy waits.
"The biggest problem is with the biometric machines, there are some sites where they're not working and a lot of voters have been discouraged and gone home," said Nasibullah Sayedi, a voter in the western city of Herat.
There were similar reports from other centers including the capital Kabul, while in Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan, angry voters tried to break the biometric devices because of the delays. At least 15 men were arrested over the incident.
The untried biometric technology, aimed at preventing election fraud, was rushed in at the last minute, over the objections of foreign partners who said there was not enough time to set up the system.
The organizational headaches come on top of fears of violence, particularly following the assassination of the police chief of Kandahar on Thursday, which forced authorities to delay the election in the province by a week.
Taliban militants have issued a series of statements telling people not to take part in what they consider a foreign-imposed process and warning election centers may be attacked. Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed across the country but already nine candidates have been assassinated and hundreds of people killed and wounded in election-related attacks.
Widespread allegations of voter fraud present a challenge to the legitimacy of the process, seen by Afghanistan's international partners as a vital step ahead of the more important presidential election next year.
Afghan politics is still tainted by the aftermath of a disputed presidential vote in 2014 that forced the two main rival groupings to form an unstable partnership. Both sides were accused of massive electoral cheating.

More News For this Category

Cyclone Idai deaths could exceed 1,000 as need for aid grows

Cyclone Idai deaths could exceed 1,000 as need for aid grows

AP, Beira, Mozambique :Even as flood waters began to recede in parts of Mozambique on Friday, fears rose that the death toll could soar as bodies are revealed.The number

North Korea quits liaison office in setback for South after new US sanctions

North Korea quits liaison office in setback for South after new US sanctions

Reuters, Seoul : North Korea on Friday (March 22) pulled out of a liaison office with the South, in a major setback for Seoul, just hours after the United States

Prince Charles heads to Cuba amid US tensions

Prince Charles heads to Cuba amid US tensions

AFP, Havana :Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will make the first royal visit to communist-run Cuba on Sunday at a time when ally Washington is seeking to

News In Brief

Iraqi ferry mishap death toll rises to 100AFP, BaghdadAlmost 100 people, mostly women and children, died Thursday as a ferry packed with families celebrating Kurdish New Year sank in

EU leaders offer two options for short Brexit delay

EU leaders offer two options for short Brexit delay

AFP, Brussels :European leaders and Prime Minister Theresa May agreed Thursday on a short delay to Britain's divorce from the European Union in the hope of ensuring an orderly

Syria slams Trump, vows to recover Israeli-occupied Golan

Syria slams Trump, vows to recover Israeli-occupied Golan

Reuters, Beirut :Damascus condemned on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that it was time to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, vowing Syria would recover the area

NZ bans sale of assault gun, semi-auto rifles

NZ bans sale of assault gun, semi-auto rifles

 AFP, Wellington :New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an immediate ban on the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatics Thursday in a muscular response to the Christchurch terror attack

India drops 7 spots in list of happiest nations, still behind Pak, China

India drops 7 spots in list of happiest nations, still behind Pak, China

PTI, United Nations  :Indians are not as happy in 2019 as they were in 2018 and the country figures at 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on this

Islamic State will be wiped off map imminently, says Trump

A bullish US President Donald Trump predicted Wednesday that the Islamic State group would be wiped off the map within hours, as he unfurled printouts showing the jihadists' shrinking presence

EU chief says Brexit delay possible if MPs approve deal

EU chief says Brexit delay possible if MPs approve deal

The EU could approve Britain's request for a short delay to Brexit but only if UK MPs next week vote through the withdrawal deal they have twice rejected, European Council