Voting to be extended in districts where polling stations were closed due to violence

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections were held on Saturday amid insurgent attacks and logistical challenges that forced officials to extend polling in several centres by another day.

At least five explosions occurred in Kabul alone, with confirmed attacks outside the capital in polling stations across Afghanistan.

Despite engaging in peace negotiations with the US administration last week, the Taliban had called for a boycott of the elections, ordering their fighters to target polling centres and security forces.

Power lines transporting electricity from Tajikistan to the northern provinces were attacked, affecting a voting process that relied on electronic biometric equipment.

Taliban fighters blocked road and highways in areas under the group’s control, preventing voters from accessing polling stations. Several reports also stated that Taliban members had kidnapped election workers in the north. Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah criticised the Taliban’s attempt to sabotage the elections. “Our enemies do not want the country to have leadership elected by the people and so they seek to bar people to participate in election,” he said, in an address at the end of first day of polling.

Security wasn’t the only concern for many Afghans. Questions were also raised by the Electoral Complaints Commission (EEC) over the transparency of the elections. Ali Reza Rouhani, an EEC spokesperson, pointed to numerous shortcomings in the electoral process, including biometric systems that did not work, and observers who were not granted access or mistreated. “The Complaints Commission were also denied access,” to unspecified polling stations Mr Rouhani alleged.

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