Afghans braved the Odds and voted
The Killid Group with its extended network of reporters (187 reporters in all 34 provinces and in most important districts) has covered, for the fourth time, the Afghan Presidential election on 28 September, 2019.
This year's Presidential Elections was very challenging since the insurgents have menaced to disrupt the election process and prevent Afghans from casting their ballots. Even though the Taliban did not totally succeed in their task but significantly lower level of participation can be related, at least partially to that.
Indeed, the public and even most of the candidates thought that the peace negotiations, between the US government representatives and the Taliban representation based in Doha Qatar, was getting priority compare to the election.
Basically, the majority of Afghan actors (political class, civil society, most candidates and the Independent Election Commission, IEC) were expecting the deal to happen before the elections and de facto cancel the polling. Until the famous Twitter message (07 September, 2019), from the US President Donald Trump that stopped sharp the negotiations.
Taking into consideration these above facts we can comprehend the low level of the public participation at this presidential election.
The public was not believing their vote would count much, for the following reasons; at the last presidential election, in 2014, their choice of candidate was scarified for a political settlement forced by the then US Secretary of State John Kerry and the creation of the National Unity Government (NUG), the prospect of a peace deal and the possibility of power sharing between the afghan government and the Taliban were making the results of the election null and void, finally the fact that the two main candidates (incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and the NUG Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah) did not convince the public from their very low level of achievements.
The IEC and most of the candidates were thinking that the peace deal and the power sharing were inevitable, they didn't properly campaign nor mobilize their forces in the months ahead of the election.
The Afghan Security Forces have mobilized an extra 70,000 fighters in order to secure the process of the election and they put their lives at risk and defended the process.
Despite all of this, a portion of Afghan voters braved all the odds and went to cast their votes. In all 34 provinces people went to vote and it is even more heroic when they went and stand for their right to democracy in the most insecure places of the country.
The IEC despite its shortcoming (ballot papers were transported until hours before the election, a portion of the biometric devices were not functioning and the IEC could not open on time the polling stations, in parts of the country), the insecurity and the heavy political pressure, the overall process was run quiet smoothly.
The voting process in most of polling stations across the country started at 7 am, in some places it started as late as 9 am. The assigned time for Afghans to cast their votes was from 7 am to 3 pm, but due to the late start in a portion of the polling stations the IEC extended the closing time to 5 pm.
The overall incidents during the day could be as follow:
The number of security incidents during the Election Day were significantly lower compare to parliamentary elections. Majority of the incidents consisted of relatively small-scale attacks with RPGs and mortars against polling centers. The insurgents initiated a coordinated attack against National Security Forces in various location across the country, most of them pushed back by ANSF by reopening the polling centers. During the day, mortars and rockets (RPGs) were fired on several polling centers with no casualties or lesser number of casualties reported.
Magnetic explosive devises were detonated near the polling centers and in few incidents MIED were attached to ANSF vehicles resulting small casualties to civilians and ANSF members.
- Delays in the delivery of relevant election materials.
- Non-presence of IEC observers in some of the polling centers.
- Unfamiliarity of IEC designated staff for biometric devices
- Dysfunctional biometric devices in some of the polling stations
- Non-existence of voters names in the voters lists
- Some of the polling stations were not open on due time.
External interventions to the polling process:
- Interferences of MPs, local commanders, influential bodies, and warlords into the IEC business and attempts for fraud in few occasions.
- A staff member of IEC was verbally abused and then physically beaten up by a MP in Kapisa.
The Killid Group has covered extensively, every single past election (presidential and parliamentary) think that the brave participation of the afghan people, even lower, to this presidential election deserve commending and shall not go unnoticed. The brave support and protection of the Afghan security forces deserved as much commending and admiration. The IEC has also worked very hard to make the process happen and they did very well.
Today we are going to seek for the results and whatever the way it goes, Afghan people hope that our politicians show as much maturity to submit to the results.