News / Asia

Tensions High Ahead of Afghan Vote

Multimedia

Audio
Sean Maroney

Polling centers across much of Afghanistan are due to open Saturday for the country's latest round of elections. Nearly 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 seats in Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, or wolesi jirga. Expectations for the vote are cautious as violence worsens in the country and memories remain of widespread voter fraud allegations in previous elections.

Security arrangements

Afghan forces have increased security across the country a day before Afghans head to the polls.

Shayan Nabil lives in the capital Kabul, where there was a noticeable increase in the presence of Afghan security forces on the streets Friday.

"It is a positive sign that we see our police forces there on the streets and checking vehicles and cars everywhere to provide a secure environment for the people of Afghanistan to go to polls tomorrow," Nabil said.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi tells VOA there are nearly 300,000 Afghan forces and 150,000 international forces participating in security for the election.

Apprehensions

He cautions that they cannot ignore the Taliban's repeated threats to disrupt voting with countrywide attacks.

He says that the way the war is going, no one can guarantee a peaceful election. But he says they have taken all the possible measures for one. He says that by the support of the Afghan people and by the mercy of God, they hope it will happen.

Insurgents have killed several candidates and campaign workers in the run-up to the September 18 vote. Election officials also say roughly 15 percent of more than 6,000 polling centers will not open due to poor security.

Another major concern is voter fraud. Last year's fraud-marred presidential vote nearly undermined the credibility of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, both in Afghanistan and the international community.

As voting closes Saturday, polling officials are expected to compile their station's results and then send the result sheets and votes to a tally center in Kabul.

Role of election commission

The Independent Election Commission, which runs the election process, says it has taken high-tech measures to ensure transparency.

Afghan Election Facts

  • More than 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament or wolesi jirga.
  • One quarter or 68 of the legislative seats are reserved for women, and more than 400 female candidates are running in the elections.
  • Polls open at 7 a.m. (0230 UTC) and close at 4 p.m. (1130 UTC) local time on Saturday.
  • There are an estimated 17.5 million registered voters in Afghanistan, out of a population of about 28 million.
  • Close to 300,000 Afghan troops and police, backed by international forces, will be guarding polls across the country. Roughly 15 percent of the more than 6,800 polling centers will not open due to poor security.
  • Preliminary results are not expected before October 8.  Final results likely will be announced at the end of next month

IEC Chairman Fazal Ahmad Mainawi says cameras will watch the officials counting votes in the tally center. In previous elections, there were concerns that some tally center employees were recording incorrect figures on purpose for certain candidates.

Mainawi also says the IEC's website will make all the information available to the public.

He says that besides publishing the figures, officials will scan each result sheet and publish them on the IEC website.

Sustained pressure

United Nations envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura acknowledged Saturday's vote would not be perfect, but said it would be an improvement from the presidential poll.

Some candidates also are seeing this election as a chance to confront government corruption. Mr. Karzai has faced sustained pressure from the United States and its allies to combat it.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama said that although some progress has been made, the government in Kabul is still a "long way" from where it needs to be.

Haroun Mir, a candidate from Kabul province, says the stakes are high in this election.

"If we fail this time and if the parliament is dysfunctional or will be dysfunctional like the Afghan government, I think the whole system will be paralyzed," Mir said.

He says if voter turnout remains low or allegations of widespread voter fraud tarnishes the election, the Taliban will win a major victory.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid