As threats escalate against voter registration centers in various parts of Afghanistan, the Shia Ulema Council of Afghanistan, a council of religious scholars, has set conditions for people’s participation in the registration and election process.
A statement from the council released Wednesday called on the people not to register vote or apply for national identity cards until government ensures the safety of the centers countrywide.
“The council tells the honored nation of Afghanistan that unfortunately, the national unity government has failed to ensure the safety of the people, especially in a recent incident… We ask all the Muslim people of Afghanistan not to participate in the election due to the growing insecurity in the country until government fully provides safety to the people,” the council said in the statement.
An official from the council told TOLOnews that their demand does not mean boycotting the election.
“Some people have interpreted (our remarks) in the way that we have principally boycotted the elections,” Rezwani Bamyani, head of cultural affairs of Shia Ulema Council of Afghanistan, told TOLOnews.
“Certainly, it does not mean that. We have set a condition for participation in elections and in voter registration (process) until security is ensured with the help of people and under the monitor of people. In that case, people should participate (in the process),” he added.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) meanwhile said voter registration turnout has been slow.
According to the commission, more than 400,000 people have registered in the past 11 days.
“Different mechanisms are underway for raising public awareness (on elections). Our messages have not been delivered to the people in 34 provinces therefore there is hope for an increase of people’s turnout,” Maliha Hassan, an IEC commissioner.
In a deadly attack on Sunday, 60 people were killed and as many wounded in an explosion near a voter registration center in the west of Kabul.
“This is part of strategic plans by Afghanistan’s enemies who are trying to create fractures among ethnic groups and create an ethnic war,” Wolesi Jirga Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said.
Some MPs also raised the issue of voter registration centers’ safety in parliament on Wednesday.
“At what cost do they want the people to go to the polling centers? By sacrificing their lives? At what cost are they trying to legitimize this process?” asked Nahid Farid, an MP from Herat.
“The issue of stamping on national identity cards has changed to a serious problem (for voters). The voter registration process will move slowly if an alternative is not found for this problem,” said Ghulam Farooq Majroh, an MP.
At least 100 voter registration centers from 7,355 are closed in the capital and other provinces due to security threats, IEC statistics show.