Lack of resources, constant Taliban threats and insincerity of politicians cloud upcoming Afghan parliamentary elections: Report

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Despite concerns about transparency and security, the long delayed parliamentary elections have until a week to go in Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera reported.

“Because of the lack of resources, constant threats from the Taliban and insincerity of our politicians, a fair chance is never given to a sincere person who wants to do some good for the country. But we must change the situation ourselves. If we don’t go out and express what we want, we will always be under a forced regime or a foreign invasion,” a laborer told Al-Jazeera.

The campaigns have started on September 28, originally set to be held in early 2015 following presidential elections but were delayed to July 7, 2018 and were then pushed to October 20 due to security fears and reforms in voter registration.

More than 2,500 people, including 418 are women, are competing for the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament.

“I see a lot of young people on the billboards who are campaigning for the elections, most of them are highly educated and good people,” Ismail Ahmadzai, a Kabul resident was quoted by AJ as having said. “I would encourage everyone to vote for young people, because the [politicians] before them have shown us that they have not done anything but give false hope.”

To avoid vote rigging, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced on Friday that a total of 22,000 biometric devices had arrived in Kabul to be used across the country, including 760 warring districts.

“The use of the biometric devices is very simple. Anyone who has used a smartphone can use it,” IEC spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi was quoted by AJ as having said. “The devices will help verify voter identities by comparing their fingerprints to facial images and producing a unique barcode for each voter that will massively help in weeding out duplicates.”

Ibrahimi said at least 8.8 million people have registered so far.

“It was 9.5 million, but when we got rid of the duplicates, those who were underaged or who did not have proper documentation, it came out to 8.8 million. We disqualified more than 600,000 people,” he said.

The delivery of the 19,400 devices was delayed for days and later had to be dispatched to other provinces to support 21,000 polling stations.

“The biggest challenge is time and security at the moment. We don’t know how and when people will be trained and assisted in using this technology,” Mohammed Amiri, an activist based in Kabul was quoted by AJ. “The government has not initiated the awareness programmes on how to use the biometric system … many people are still not aware of it.”

The Taliban issued a statement on Monday saying that its fighters will target government security forces to disrupt the elections.

“People who are trying to help in holding this process successfully by providing security should be targeted and no stone should be left unturned for the prevention and failure [of the election],” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in the statement.

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