The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday said that 431 polling centers are to remain closed on the day of elections in some insecure regions of the country. 5373 is the total of centers considered.
The polling centers that will remain closed are spread across the country:
31 centers in Badghis, 29 in Badakhshan, 89 in Balkh, 12 in Baghlan, 14 in Takhar, 7 in Jawzjan, 11 in Sar-e-Pul, 20 in Samangan, 66 in Ghor, 46 in Faryab, 11 in Farah, 3 in Kapisa, 7 in Kunduz, 5 in Kandahar, 20 in Nuristan, 29 in Herat and 31 centers in Maidan Wardak will remain closed on the day of elections.
Bashir Ahmad Tayyanj, a member of the political committee of the political parties responded:
“The recent move by the security sector and the election commission is raising suspicions for us about the credibility of the elections. In areas where the centers are announced closed, we have had good voting turnout. The security sector has dealt with the issue in a biased way and we were never consulted about why these centers will remain closed. If the issue is security threats, then threats exist in all regions of Afghanistan. How it is possible that in provinces where we have major voting turnout, there is high-level threats? This is why we are concerned about it.”
“The commission has not offered a specific report to the candidates about which centers have been closed. We sent them a letter to specify which centers are really closed so that we can determine if these centers are really under threat, or if they are chosen politically,” said Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of the leadership council of Jamiat-e-Islami party.
According to the election commission, 675 centers face high-security threats and another 907 centers are under medium threats.
“Certain hands are involved in organizing a fraudulent presidential election, or they are thinking about a large scale fraud because they want the polling centers to be limited. Or they might make the areas insecure deliberately,” said Humayoun Jarir, member of Hizb-e-Islami party.
This comes a day after the US Department of State issued a statement saying that Washington hopes that the Afghan government and electoral institutions make all necessary arrangements and preparations for transparent elections in the country.
“Along with other international donors, we have called repeatedly for the Afghan government and electoral institutions to make preparations for a credible and transparent presidential election. Afghan voters who risk their lives to participate in elections deserve to know the outcome accurately reflects the voters’ choice. Coalition forces and donors who have sacrificed to give Afghans the ability to choose their leaders deserve to have this confidence as well,” the statement reads.
The statement also called on the Taliban to not disrupt the process and to refrain from violence.
“We expect Afghanistan’s institutions to take all necessary steps to ensure the election is transparent and credible to Afghan voters. We hold all candidates accountable to the code of conduct they signed. We call on all parties, including the Taliban, to ensure Afghan voters can go to polling centers on election day without fear of intimidation, attack, or violence. We strongly condemn the threats made today by the Taliban against election workers and voters. Any attempt to intimidate, coerce, or buy voters is an attack on democracy. We offer our strong support to the Afghan National Security Forces, who day-in and day-out sacrifice their lives for the cause of peace and stability,” concluded the statement.
The Afghan presidential election is scheduled for September 28.