While the Afghan security agencies have announced their readiness to fully secure the upcoming presidential elections, there are still concerns in various regions of the country that security threats could impact the process.
Reports indicate that some of the polling stations that remained opened during last October’s parliamentary elections are now closed due to serious security threats.
But the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has expressed hopes that the security threat will not impact the election process.
“The security situation is better to some extent; we pray that there will be no security challenge,” said Rahima Zarifi, a member of the IEC.
According to IEC statistics, over 9.6 million Afghans have registered to vote in the elections. The figure was around 9.1 million people during the parliamentary elections. However, only four million Afghan voted during the parliamentary elections.
Experts say that the turnout in the 2014 presidential elections was around seven million because of the relative security in most parts of the country.
The security situation drastically deteriorated following the 2014 presidential elections, mainly in Uruzgan, Maidan Wardak, Badghis, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul, Baghlan and Takhar provinces. The Taliban also managed to overrun the centers of Ghazni, Farah and Kunduz provinces.
Despite a surge in the Taliban insurgency, Afghan security forces successfully recaptured Warduj, Yamgan and Kera Wa Manjan districts in Badakhshan, a northern province.
Meanwhile, Afghan Ministry of Defense officials said that the government is trying to restore security in another 20 districts across the country.
Afghan security forces recently recaptured Pashtun Kot district in Faryab and Deh Yak and Khawja Omari districts in Ghazni.
“Operations will be conducted in a serious way so that the remaining districts are recaptured from the armed opponents,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense.
This comes a day after the Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesperson stated that over 72,000 security personnel had been deployed to provide security to 49,402 polling booths across the nation.
The IEC, however, said that the security institutions have yet to assure security for those districts threatened by insurgents.
“In Ghazni, we have 406 polling centers, but from the reports, the security forces have assured the security of only 233 centers,” said Abdul Naseer Mohmand, provincial chief of the IEC in Ghazni province.
“25 centers are partially closed in those districts where security threats are high,” said Mohammad Jawad Hijri, spokesperson for the Takhar governor.
“We are not optimistic about successful and transparent elections in view of the current situation,” said MP Tawfiq Wahdat.
The IEC previously estimated that 7,385 centers would be open on election day, but now only 5,373 centers will be open, according to current IEC statistics.