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2,000 polling stations to remain shut on Election Day: IEC

AT News Report

KABUL: As the presidential election are just around the corner, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Friday announced that at least 2,000 vote centers will remain closed on polling day.

Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, a spokesperson for the electoral body, in an interview with Azadi Radio cited the insecurity as a reason behind closing the vote centers.

This issue has also raised concerns among electoral watchdogs.

As the countdown for the election has begun with 40 days remaining until the day, the IEC announces the potential closure of 2,000 voting stations.

“Security institutions said these centers are situated in areas facing extreme and moderate security threats and that they cannot guarantee their security as a result,” Ibrahimi said.

The IEC proposed 7,378 voting centers to security organs but they said they could only ensure security of 5,373 of them.

Ibrahimi said majority of the shut centers would be in provinces other than capital Kabul, Panjshir and Bamyan. Most of the polling centers would remain closed in Farah, Kunduz, Ghazni, Helmand, Jawzjan, Zabul and Sar-i-Pul.

The IEC has no specific figures as to how many voters would be deprived of their right to suffrage as a result of the act.

According to IEC officials, the closed polling stations would unfortunately also include those where voter registration had been conducted earlier.

They said the registered voters could go to other safer polling areas, adding they would facilitate their casting of votes in ballot boxes.

Meanwhile, a number of election watchdogs say that the closure of election centers will bring under question the legitimacy and all-inclusiveness of the election.

Yousuf Rashid, the chief executive of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), said: “It’s a shocking figure and constitutes almost a third of all the polling stations assessed by the commission. People will be deprived of their right to vote and the principles of universality, all-inclusiveness and justice will be trampled upon.”

The upcoming presidential vote is slated for September 28.

It is worth mentioning that the number of voters who can cast their votes during the upcoming presidential election has reached 9.6 million. Seventeen contenders, including incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, are running for president and have already started their campaigns.

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