Afghanistan concluded its much-delayed parliamentary election on October 27, amid insurgent attacks and logistical delays. More than 2,500 candidates were in the fray for 249 seats in Parliament. The final polling was held in the southern province of Kandahar, which saw a massive voter turnout despite the tense security situation.
Voting in Kandahar had been delayed by a week following an attack on the provincial Governor’s compound on October 18, which claimed the life of local strongman and police chief General Abdul Raziq. The attack, claimed by the Taliban, also targeted U.S. Commander General Scott Miller, and injured at least three foreign nationals.
Raziq’s assassination is seen as a significant game changer by many political analysts. Raziq, backed by U.S. forces, was credited with keeping the Taliban in check in the south. Despite several allegations of human rights violations and drug trafficking, Raziq, who held the title of a provincial police chief, remained a dominant power in Kandahar and surrounding provinces. “[Raziq’s] rule drove the insurgency, but also contained it. Kandahar, under his watch, especially in recent years, has been relatively stable,” noted Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghan Analyst Network. He predicts a grim future for stability in southern Afghanistan after Raziq’s death. “The death of [Raziq] could reduce the southern region to turmoil,” he warned, adding that an imminent Taliban attack on Kandahar city could be ruled out.
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