Election watchdogs say security forces are not prepared to ensure safety of the 2019 presidential election.

With the country is preparing to go to upcoming presidential poll scheduled to be held on September 28, 2019, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), election watchdogs, and campaign offices of presidential candidates express concerns over security and safety of the election process.

Election watchdog organizations criticize the Afghan government of not taking enough measures to ensure the safety of upcoming presidential election.  

Zabihullah Sadat, deputy spokesperson for the IEC, noted that the deteriorating security situation in some districts is a real challenge. He called upon Afghan security forces to ensure security of the polls.

Naeem Asghari, a program manager at the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), stated that the exact number of polling centers, which will be set up in coming election, is not yet clear. He warned that the upcoming presidential election will technically be problematic if the security apparatus does not finalize the exact number of polling centers before the election timeline. The election will be disputed if the security institution fails to ensure the safety of all polling centers.

“Security forces must ensure security of the voters. Unfortunately, there is no certain initiative taken to ensure security of the 2019 vote,” Asghari asserted.

Expressing concern over deteriorating security situation, Mohammad Vaezi, spokesperson for campaign office of presidential candidate Haneef Atmar, said, security is a real challenge for presidential candidates. Pointing to government’s preparation for commemoration of Independence Day, he accused government of being busy in “ceremonial works.”  

“There is no secure area even in Kabul and insecurity will leave a very serious impact on transparency of the election,” said Arif Kayani, spokesperson for a presidential ticket led by Rahmatullah Nabil, former chief of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency. He said the government was unwilling to ensure safety of election.  

The FEFA and the IEC underlined that there were serious threats against election tickets, with the later saying they have already shared concern with security institutions.

However, Nasrat Rahimi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, stated that 900 police forces were tasked to ensure safety of the candidates. He noted that every presidential candidate was given security detail and armored car.  

Rahimi said, “Afghan police force has taken certain initiatives to ensure the safety of election.”  

According to the interior ministry, currently 22 districts are under control of anti-government militants, and nine districts are contested between government forces and the militants.

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