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Afghanistan presidential polls marred by violence, lower turnout

Afghan security forces stand in front of an election poster of president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, which is at high risk of Taliban attacks during the presidential election on September 28, 2019. AP Photo

Kabul, Sep 28: Afghanistan Presidential elections witnessed violence in the form of blasts and rocket attacks in 13 provinces in which five people were killed and 76 were wounded.Afghans on Saturday voted to elect a new president in the dace of Taliban threats. Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (0230 UTC) and closed at 5 p.m. after the Independent Election Commission (IEC) extended polling by one hour.

Polling centers in cities and villages opened at 7:00 a.m. local time (0230 GMT) and continued till 5:00 p.m. local time (1230 GMT) in the country’s 34 provinces, election commission officials said.

Fearing possible fraud in the voting process, many voters have complained that the biometric devices in some polling centers were out of order which undermines the polling transparency.

There are accusations that voting was flawed as many voters have complained that the biometric devices in some polling centers were out of order which undermines the polling transparency.

The voter turnout was very thin. There are immense fears that flawed election could push the country into chaos. The election body’s chief Nuristani has dismissed all security problems and possible fraud for Saturday’s voting, saying all necessary measures have been taken to provide security for the voters and ensure transparency in the polls.

Fearing possible fraud in the voting process, many voters have complained that the biometric devices in some polling centers were out of order which undermines the polling transparency.

The Afghan president is elected through a two-round direct voting system. A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes cast.If no one gets a majority, the top two candidates will face off in a second vote.Results are due three weeks later i.e. the preliminary results will be announced on October 17. A second round, if needed, will be held in November.

This time the Independent Election Commission reduced the number of polling stations due to Taliban threats and also some were tagged as highly sensitive.

US-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001 and since then the Nato mission and the US troops have been stationed in Afghanistan and the US has been trying to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Taliban.But US President Donald Trump suddenly cancelled the US-Taliban reconciliation talks.

The US currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and there are thousands more from countries part of a Nato mission to assist the country’s security forces.

Ghani is the front-runner, who is facing accusations of corruption and abuse of power. Abdullah Abdullah is the second major contender.
Another is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a deeply conservative former warlord.He’s also an ethnic Pashtun.

The Taliban have denounced the election and constitution as illegitimate and calls for an end to American boots in Afghanistan.U.S. wants the Taliban to cut ties with al-Qaida and promise to resist terror groups.

Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution provides equal rights for women and men but young women are fearful that if Taliban returns , they will put restrictions on females.

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