May 26, 2018
Afghan authorities have started to register candidates for a long-delayed vote amid security issues that threaten the very integrity of the elections.
Head of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission Gula Jan Badi Sayad said Saturday that hundreds of candidates were expected to come forward for the October 20 parliamentary and district elections.
Sayad, who was speaking in a news conference, said registration would remain open for 12 days.
The official also elaborated on the statistics related to the ongoing voter registration, saying some 3.2 million people had registered to vote so far, exceeding some forecasts but well short of the potential electorate of 14 million.
Security has been a main deterrent to Afghanistan’s ability to hold the parliamentary elections some three years after an original five-year mandate of the legislature ended in 2015.
The war-torn country has struggled to ensure security in registration centers as many still suspect Kabul could hold the elections on time. An attack last month on one of those centers in the capital left 60 people killed while there has been a string of smaller incidents elsewhere.
The elections, viewed as a prelude to Afghanistan’s 2019 presidential vote, come amid increased attacks by Taliban and other militant groups across the country. Militants have even warned civilians that they should stay away from key government-run positions, including polling stations.
However, Afghanistan’s Western backers, many of them still maintaining a military presence in the country some 17 years after the US-led invasion, have touted the elections as a way of bolstering the country’s movement toward democracy. Issues such as technical problems and worries over voter fraud, however, have affected the government’s ability to organize a proper ballot.