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PublishDate: Monday, September 16, 2019 23:57

Afghanistan prepares for presidential election amid challenges

Afghan Interior Ministry officials held a meeting on Monday to discuss election security as Taliban militants fighting the government have vowed to disrupt the process.
"This morning, I chaired our weekly Planning and Coordination Meeting on Elections' Security. We are entering into an important phase. So far, we have accomplished all planned security goals and we are ready and looking forward to Sept. 28," Abdul Moqim Abdulrahimzai, director general of operations and plans of the ministry, wrote on Twitter.
"Our particular focus is on our citizens' protection. Thanks to all our partners for their tireless support," he tweeted.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have beefed up security operations against Taliban fighters recently as the militants launched massive attacks on cities and districts across the country.
The security forces have recaptured six districts from Taliban militants in northern Faryab, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces since Friday, in a bid to ensure security for the polls, Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesman of the Defense Ministry, told reporters on Sunday.
The poll will be the fourth presidential election in Afghanistan since 2001, when U.S. troops invaded the country to oust the Taliban regime.
Taliban militants who have vowed to derail the election termed the voting process as a "ploy of foreign invaders to continue their occupation of Afghanistan," calling upon people to boycott the poll.
The ANDSF will provide security for 4,942 out of 5,373 polling centers and the remaining 431 centers located in remote districts will not open on the election day due to militants' presence, according to election officials.
Nearly all election materials have been shifted to 34 provincial capitals and transporting of materials are continuing from provincial centers to districts.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Election Commission (IEC) has taken measures to ensure transparency during the poll as the past Afghan elections were allegedly marred with widespread irregularities and fraud.
Election officials and workers will use biometric devices on the election day in order to avoid multiple votes and identify people involved in fraud, according to an IEC statement.
"The IEC will implement anti-fraud measures during voting and tally operations, inspection and invalidation of votes, each polling station will have one biometric device with the related voter list. One additional device is available in the polling center," the statement said.
It added that "a QR code will be printed and sticked on the ballot papers. Without the code the ballot paper will be considered invalid during counting process."
All polling staff will also be registered with biometric information, the statement noted.
A total of 18 contesters registered to run for the presidency with a five-year term and among the candidates are sitting President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
More than 9 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots during the Sept. 28 election.


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