Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) has been intensifying efforts to ensure security for the maximum number of the polling stations on election day
According to the Ministry’s spokesperson, during the last week alone security threats to 24 non-functional polling stations have been removed.
“Afghan security forces conducted 60 operations in different provinces of the country, including Sar-e-Pul and Laghman. As a result, the security threats to 24 polling stations have been removed,” said Mr. Siddiq Siddiqui at a press conference in Kabul today.
He said that at the moment, the number of non-functional polling stations has decreased from 390 to 366.
Last month, MoI submitted its security assessment to the Afghan election bodies indicating that out of a total 7,168 polling stations, 500 located in various parts of the country would likely remain closed on the polling day due to security threats.
In an exclusive interview with UNAMA earlier this month, MoI spokesperson said that despite challenges and threats from the Taliban that wants to obstruct the election process, 400,000 Afghan security forces were fully prepared to ensure security of the elections.
“We are confident that only few thousand Taliban forces would not be able to hinder the process for 10 to 12 million people who would go out to vote on the polling day,” said Mr. Siddiqui.
He said that the Afghan security forces were able, for instance, to ensure voters’ registration process, during which about four million people obtained new voter registration cards.
“The security arrangements will be ten times bigger than for the voters’ registration process,” said Mr. Siddiqui.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ján Kubiš , in an exclusive hour-long interview with a private television channel, Tolo TV, broadcast on Friday evening, expressed confidence in the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to ensure “the right possible enabling environment for having the elections throughout the country.”
Acknowledging that Afghanistan faces major security challenges, the Special Envoy believed that “everything will be done to ensure that the polling stations will open and be accessible to the people. Everything will be done to ensure that the security environment, to the extent possible, will be there, but we know how the situation is.”
Mr. Kubiš called on the Taliban to stop all actions aimed at disrupting the electoral process and appealed to their Afghan identity. “My message [to the Taliban]: directly or indirectly, allow the people to vote -- this is their right. These are your people [and] this is your country as well. So, give them the chance.”… “My second appeal [to the Taliban]: allow also those, not only those that will vote, but the candidates that campaign, election workers to be able to work, to adjudicate. Allow them to deliver,” he said.
Afghanistan is preparing to hold Presidential and Provincial Council elections on 5 April this year. Eleven candidates are running for the office of President while another 2,713 are in the contest for the Councils’ seats in 34 provinces of the country.
While Afghan institutions are fully in the lead in conducting, administering, adjudicating and securing the polls, the United Nations has been asked to support them in ensuring credible, inclusive and fair elections. UNAMA also provides, at the request of the Government, capacity-building and technical assistance to Afghan independent electoral bodies.