Afghanistan prepares for Saturday's national election

Afghanistan will hold national elections Saturday, but about 10 percent of voting districts are deemed too dangerous to protect.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   April 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, April 3 (UPI) -- Afghanistan voters will participate Saturday in the first election in the nation’s modern history. And candidates -- at least those not in the 10 percent of districts deemed too dangerous for a vote -- are making their final pitches.

The Logar Province administration building in the town of Charkh, a polling site, has been cratered by Taliban rocket fire and gunfire, and it is clear no voter will be arriving to vote in presidential or provincial council elections.

Approximately ten percent of the nation’s 7,500 polling sites are shut down, considered too dangerous to protect.

“The government has no meaning here,” said Khalilullah Kamal, the district governor, who was shot several months ago while speaking at a mosque. “If there is no expectation we will arrest people who break the law, how do we expect people to come and vote?”

While attempts to provide security for the election are being made, Taliban forces have begun a campaign of disruption by striking at Western and government targets, including a suicide bomber’s attempted entry Wednesday into the Interior Ministry building in Kabul, which killed six police officers.

The election, however, has engaged many Afghan voters, primarily in major cities. Officials say attacks since the 2009 Western-secured elections have been reduced, and Afghan and Western officials say they expect more people will vote than in 2009.

Candidate Ashraf Ghani spoke to a full Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, and candidates in areas without Taliban involvement have campaigned enthusiastically.

[New York Times]

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