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Afghans vote amid tight security

Despite low turnout, hundreds of voters complained their names were missing from voters’ lists or the biometric devices used to prevent fraud.

AT News Report

KABUL: The Afghan masses on Saturday approached polling stations across the country to practice their fundamental rights of democracy to elect their new leader through votes. The polls have opened for 4th round of presidential elections amid fears of violence following threats by the Taliban do disrupt the election process.

Security has been tightened nationwide as tens of thousands of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces deployed to guard polling stations and prevent attacks. There were some reports and insurgents attacked polling centers in a series of blasts and clashes across the country that left at least two people dead.

Polls closed at 5:00 pm (1230 GMT) after a two-hour extension due to long queues of people still waiting to vote, the Independent Election Commission said.

Compared to previous elections, the initial toll appeared relatively light, though authorities provided little information about reported blasts and ongoing armed clashes with the Taliban in various provinces.

A security official who requested anonymity told AFP that two civilians had been killed and 27 wounded in Taliban bombings and mortar attacks at polling centres across the country.

Serious security incidents were reported in several provinces including Kunduz, Nangarhar, Kabul, Bamiyan and Kandahar.

The Taliban, who unleashed a string of bombings during the two-month election campaign, claimed to have conducted hundreds of attacks against Afghanistan’s “fake elections”.

Despite threats by the Taliban, the Afghan people dared to practice democracy and voted to elect their future president. However, the turnout was very low in different sites.

Security was on high alert in every part of Kabul city and across the provinces, but despite that people participation was not outnumber.  

However, the election process was marred with different kind of technical issues, for instance some people did not find their names in voting list. This was biggest problem for them and independent election staffers were searching for alternative ways which is time-consuming with fear of fraud. The Independent Election Commission said they have held a good election comparing to last one marred with massive fraud.

But still there is many things that went viral and based on reports, over 4,000 complaints have message to media outlet. These complaints came during voting. Some voters can’t cast vote in the same stickers they voted in parliamentary election.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) Head Homa Nuristani in a press conference announced that voting ended successfully at 5:00pm on Saturday.

According to her, it was the better presidential election in the past 18 years which ended successfully with active participation of the citizens.

She said that despite challenges, all the citizens—women, men, young and old-aged took part in election.

She confirmed some challenges being faced to the voters, but on time efforts were taken to resolve the issues.     

A teacher, Kamila, said she casted her vote to elect new president for upcoming five years despite security threat. “There was security threat, but I came here to vote.”

“I want the new president to work for peace, stability and development of the country,” she added.

It is worth mentioning that over 4,000 voting sites were open during voting day in the country and 9.6 million voters were registered.

Moreover, a large number of Afghan voters complained that voters’ lists were incomplete or missing and biometric identification machines intended to reduce fraud were not working properly or people were not adequately trained on how to use them.

Preliminary results are not expected before Oct. 17 and final results not until Nov. 7. If no candidate gets 51 percent of the vote, a second round will be held between the two leading candidates.

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