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PAN, September 23, 2010

Turnout hits record low in Saturday’s polls

He believed people had realised the fact candidates had lied to them during the previous elections and failed address their problems

By Balqis Omaryar

KABUL - The voter turnout in Saturday's parliamentary elections was 50 percent lower than the 2004 ballot when 8.5 million people exercised their franchise right, an official said on Thursday.

Reports received from United Nations Afghanistan suggest that the border land routes leading from Pakistan to Afghanistan and vice versa, particularly Waziristan, Khyber Agency and Chaman were closed down for three weeks on the pretext of security threats ahead of Afghan parliamentary elections held on Saturday. However, across the border covert movement of people was reported to have been maximum during this time period prior to elections. The exact number of those who were ‘smuggled’ in this manner to cast fake votes is unknown. The UN officials say that thousands of people unlawfully entered Afghanistan during the last few days.
The Nation, Sep. 22, 2010

About 4.5 million people took part in parliamentary polls, showing exactly a 50 percent decrease in the turnout, said Muhammad Fahim Hakim, who served as a member of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in last year's presidential poll.

"In the first presidential elections in 2004 and the parliamentary polls the same year, the total number of eligible voters was 12 million," he told Pajhwok Afghan News.

During the presidential elections, 70 percent people had voted, compared to 50 percent in the parliamentary ballot the same year, he explained.

In the 2009 presidential elections, only five million of 17.5 million eligible voters cast their ballots. "For the September 18 parliamentary elections, 11.4 million people were eligible to vote across the country, but only 4.5 million cast ballots," the official added.

A political and economic analyst, Abdul Sattar Sadat, linked the low turnout to the deteriorating security situation. He believed people had realised the fact candidates had lied to them during the previous elections and failed address their problems.

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