Over 950 polling stations in Afghanistan closed

Kabul, April 5: A total of 959 polling stations, including 211 new ones, were kept shut during the presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan Saturday for security reasons.

“A total of 211 polling centres were closed down on election day due to armed engagements and enemy’s attacks in parts of the country,” Chairman of Independent Election Commission (IEC) Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani said.

Afghans began voting early Saturday to elect a new president for the next five years, in the first democratic transfer of power through polling in the country’s history, Xinhua reported.

According to Nuristani, up to 6,212 polling centres were opened for the people to vote in the country’s 34 provinces.

Ahead of the polls, the IEC had closed 748 polling centres due to security reasons and as part of efforts to prevent election fraud and irregularities.

The Taliban insurgent group fighting the government has vowed to disrupt the election process, terming the process as a “ploy of the US to continue its occupation of Afghanistan” and calling upon people to boycott the voting process.

One voter was killed in an attack in the western province of Badghis while four people were wounded in a militant attack on an election site in the northern Kunduz province, Nuristani confirmed.

One wounded remained in critical condition, he noted.

The IEC chairman also said more ballot papers would be sent to the centres where shortage of papers was reported in Kabul and other provinces.

More than 12 million eligible voters, 35 percent of them women, are expected to cast their ballots in Saturday’s polling.

The presidential election complaint period is from April 7 to April 27. The preliminary results will come out April 24 and the final result will be announced in mid-May.

IANS