Violence Disrupts Parliamentary Elections in Afghanistan

Afghan men and women register as voters at a centre in Bamyan ahead of elections in October 2018. Photo: UNAMA/Jaffar Rahim
Afghan men and women register as voters at a centre in Bamyan ahead of elections in October 2018. Photo: UNAMA/Jaffar Rahim

Violence Disrupts Parliamentary Elections in Afghanistan

Parliamentary elections were held in Afghanistan on Saturday and Sunday to elect members of the House of the People. The elections – which were initially scheduled to be held 2 years ago in October 2016 – were postponed to July 7, 2018, and then to October 20.

There are reports of explosions targeting polling stations across the country, including the capital Kabul, killing or injuring dozens of people.

Against the backdrop of violence and technical malfunctions, the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged the country’s electoral authorities to re-double their efforts to make sure all eligible voters are given a reasonable opportunity to cast their ballot.

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The violence, along with technical electoral management issues, had led to delays, and many people were forced to wait long hours to cast their vote: a number of polling stations had extended their opening hours, with some remaining open for voting on Sunday.

The UN has taken note of the anti-fraud measures put in place by the authorities, and the presence of up to 400,000 observers and candidates’ agents, as well as political party monitors, to ensure the transparency of the elections.

More than 2,500 candidates, including 417 women, contested the elections for a seat in the country’s 250-member parliament. Nearly 9 million Afghans registered to vote.

Vote counting is in progress and preliminary results are expected to be declared in November. The electoral authorities can release the final results in the next 2 months – by December 20.

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Rakesh Raman