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 Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs