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Xinhua, October 23, 2018

News Analysis: Afghan parliamentary elections beset with deadly incidents, irregularities

However, allegations of fraud and complaints over irregularities were reported and thousands of complaints were filed by voters and ECC members from the 4,576 polling centers across the country

At least 28 people have been reportedly killed and 83 others wounded following consecutive violent incidents during the long-delayed Afghan parliamentary elections held over the weekend.

Balloting started on Saturday as the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) initially planned to hold the polls in one day, but the IEC officials extended the voting to Sunday as scores of polling centers were not open or running on Saturday after long delays due to militants' attacks, irregularities, and a low attendance of election workers.

The Taliban had warned people not to vote, and the Interior Ministry said insurgents launched some 250 attacks across the country during two days of voting, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than a hundred others.
Associated Press, Oct. 22, 2018

Afghan Minister of Interior Affairs Wais Ahmad Barmak confirmed that 192 out of 1,800 attacks and explosions planned by Taliban militants occurred throughout the country, killing 28 people, including 11 security officials, and injuring 83 others, including 19 security personnel in the first day of the process.

However, some unconfirmed sources said that 67 people were killed and 126 others wounded in election-related violence, blasts and clashes across the country.

Media expert and analyst Mir Ahmad Shah blamed security sectors for their incompetency and being unprofessional in tightening security of the election under such sensitive conditions.

"They had already received the information about what would happen during the process, in the wake of the Taliban threat to disturb the process," Shah, who spent more than 40 years as a media professional and is now working for the state-run Kabul Times daily, told Xinhua.

Growing Taliban threats and technical problems, mostly from the election commission officials' failure to properly use the biometric verification machines contributed to the extension of the process to another day, observers said.

The elections covered 32 out of the country's 34 provinces. Voting in Kandahar and Ghazni provinces has been postponed due to security reasons.

Taliban militants had earlier threatened to sabotage the Afghan parliamentary elections and warned that their fighters have been instructed to create impediments to the process. But they promised to minimize civilian harms during the raids.

Election-related violence killed up to 10 parliamentary hopefuls. In the latest incident carried out by the Taliban, a prominent candidate, Abdul Jabar Qahraman and three of his supporters were killed in southern Helmand province.

The war in Afghanistan, Mir Ahmad Shah believed, was not only a domestic issue, but an intelligence war imposed on Afghanistan.

There have been deadly attacks against candidates and campaign rallies, both by the Taliban and Islamic States militants. Since the 20-day campaign period began, at least two candidates and over 34 civilians have been killed in such attacks, including suicide bombings, motorcycle bombs and drive-by shootings. In the run-up to campaigning, five candidates were killed and two were abducted, their fates unknown. Also, Afghan security forces accidentally killed three bodyguards of an independent candidate during a raid on a house near his residence.
Associated Press, Oct. 20, 2018

"So, there was a need to take preventative measures to foil any enemy plots aiming at sabotaging the process, as security organs announced the deployment of more than 54,000 troops to ensure election security," he said.

Ensuring transparency at the polls has also been a major task for the IEC and the Election Complaints Commission (ECC), the Afghan electoral watchdog, as the international community hoped that the Oct. 20 elections would be an improvement from the fraud-tainted 2014 presidential election.

However, allegations of fraud and complaints over irregularities were reported and thousands of complaints were filed by voters and ECC members from the 4,576 polling centers across the country.

More than 2,500 candidates are contesting for the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga or the lower house of parliament.

Most of the candidates stood independently as the country does not have many regular and standard political parties.

Nearly 9 million voters, out of 12 million eligible Afghans, were registered to take part in the process and elect their lawmakers for a five-year term.

However, just over 4 million Afghans, with 33 percent of them being women, cast their ballots during the two-day elections due to Taliban intimidation and security threats, according to IEC officials.

Preliminary results will be announced on Nov. 10 and the final results are expected to be released on Dec. 20, according to the IEC timetable.

Category: Taliban/ISIS/Terrorism, Corruption - Views: 571