Afghans vote for second day amid violence and technical problems

Afghans vote for second day amid violence and technical problems

As the extended phase of the Afghan parliamentary elections came to a close on Sunday evening, reports of more violence and mismanagement emerged across the country as the death toll from the past two days of voting rose to over 50.

Independent Elections Commission Chairman Abdul Badi Sayat congratulated voters for turning out, saying that around 4 million people out of the 8.8 million registered voters cast their ballots over the past two days at 4,576 polling centers across the country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also thanked citizens for their participating during a speech carried on state TV.

“Afghans did not only show their enemies that they would not surrender to any threats or warnings, but that they also have the power and will to defeat their enemies,” Mr Ghani said, referring to threats by the Taliban and an ISIS affiliate warning voters against casting ballots.

But the vote was marred by violence and technical hitches. A roadside bomb in the eastern Nangarhar province struck a vehicle filled with civilians, killing 11 people, including six children, Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Sunday. No one immediately claimed the attack.

According to official figures presented by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), a total of 407 polling centres were completely shut on the first day due to the sensitive security situation in several parts of Afghanistan. Several other polling centres faced technical as well as security issues, hindering normal operations and leaving many voters stranded.

Relief was afforded to Afghan voters when the IEC decided to not only keep the polling centres open for longer hours on Saturday, but also extend polling in at least 253 centres across the country on Sunday.

“After hours of waiting in lines yesterday, I was finally able to cast my vote today,” Rafi Tabee, a Kabul-based media professional, told The National.

Mr Tabee went to his designated polling centre in Kabul several times over the course of the day but was unable to vote.

“There was a lot of mismanagement of the system. There was no order, from morning until evening. We asked everyone what to do and they kept asking to wait,” he said. “I was so unhappy that night. I could not sleep. I was upset that the government couldn’t fix these small problems even after so much money had been spent,” he added.

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