Reporting all the latest developments and updates here.
The findings of Reporterly show that no woman has been able to go to the polls in two districts of Kandahar province, including the Arghistan and Khakriz districts, because of high security threats.
Bashir Ahmad, district chief of Arghistan in Kandahar province, says “besides the blockade of three polling stations in Arghistan, due to the security threats this district, women have not been able to go to the polls.”
District Chief of Khakriz confirmed to Reporterly that few women were registered for parliamentary elections because of Taliban warnings in the district, but at least those women have participated in the polling today.
“There were few qualified voters that had registered in the district for parliamentary elections which counted around 400 people.
The Taliban warned people that if they vote, they will be punished. Along with the fact that women could not participate, a number of men did not participate in the election either. ”
According to the district governor of Khakriz, the voting process in the district ended at 3:30 pm in the afternoon.
The Independent Election Complaints Commission’s spokesperson in a press conference clarified that the body thinks today’s elections in Kandahar were relatively better managed than last week parliamentary elections for other provinces.
However, the spokesperson from IECC cleared again that votes cast without biometric processes today will be deemed invalid.
As for the problems in today’s elections, it was pointed out that most complaints were regarding the lack of voter lists and another slot of complaints was with respect to intervening activities by some strongmen.
On the types of complaints, IECC’s deputy confirmed that they have 30 categories of complaints.
Reporterly was informed by Juma Khan Abdul Ghani, Ghurak district’s Chief that the elections in the district ended well.
In this area, there were only 2 polling stations that ended without any problems.
The chief of Dand district, Abdullah Khan Amin has told Reporterly that fortunately, there were no serious problems at the centres in Dand except a case in which the names of the nomadic people (Kuchis) were missing at two polling stations in the district and have not yet been received by the electoral staff. As a result, they were deprived of the right to vote.’
There were 10 polling stations in the district, two of which (Bolandi and Chaplani) were blocked due to the lack of the voters’ lists. The election process is still ongoing as of now.
“Most of the women’s polling stations in Arghandab district were closed. For example, in the Kohak School and a number of other center, the polling stations were completely closed,” said Mohammad Yar Yar, a local correspondent in Kandahar.
According to him, only in Abdul Wase high school, women have had a considerable turnout, but in other polling centers, either the women’s stations were closed or the turnout was insignificant.
Mr. Yar emphasizes that at the men’s stations in this district, there has been regular and transparent polling than most of the other districts and nearly all centers have been opened.
“There were no biometrics and voters list problems in the district, the turnout was high today, it has however dropped currently. It is possible that the voting process in the district will be completed in time. ”
However, Arghandab district chief, Sharif Ahmad Rasuli, confirms to Reporterly that out of the total of 16 polling stations in the district, the ballot papers run out for a few moments, but according to Mr. Rasuli, the challenge was addressed by the electoral staffs.
The provincial office of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission says that its office has registered 350 electoral complaints from the districts and the city of Kandahar province.
“There are about 350 phone complaints that we have received so far, but due to the blockade of the roads and the lack of Internet connection in some districts, documents and photographs of these violations have not yet reached us,” said Karimullah Stanekzai, Kandahar Provincial IECC spokesman.
Mr. Stanekzai insists that most of the complaints have been registered in the districts of this province and they are trying to investigate the complaints after opening the roads and sharing documents.
According to provincial officials of the Electoral Complaints Commission, polling in Kandahar began at 8 am the but most of the centres were closed until 10 am.
A spokesman for the provincial office of the Electoral Complaints Commission said, “In a number of centers, along with the existence of technical challenges, election commission staff and observers were not allowed to enter. We were able to resolve this challenge by communicating with the Kandahar Provincial Office and security forces by 10 am. “
Assadullah Zraswand, a local correspondent in Kandahar, lists the election challenges so far as follows:
Firstly, in a number of polling stations, the ballot papers reached late.
Secondly, the letters Toy and Zoy (Persian Alphabet) are missing in the voters’ list at the Zahir Shahi High School polling centre, and those whose names have started with these letters are still deprived of their right to vote.
Thirdly, at Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan high school in Aino Mina, the polling station #11 is closed due to the malfunctioned biometric devices.
Fourthly, in some polling centres, the complaint forms have not been provided to observers.
Moreover, in a number of polling stations, electoral observers are distributing brochures to the voters.
Furthermore, some people are calling for an extension of the election for Sunday tomorrow.
Additionally, the ballot paper is finished at Mahmoud Tarzi’s high school and the biometric system is not working. People are in a confusion.
It was also noticed that in Maiwand district of Kandahar, people complain about the slow pace of the voting process, and emphasize that each voter takes almost half an hour to cast vote.
Not just this, in some polling centres, due to the disorder in queues and the challenges that come with it, voters have returned to their homes without voting.
Also, the names of voters are missing in the centres in which they had registered, and as a result, they are deprived of their right to vote.
Moreover, in Panjwayi District of Kandahar, out of a total of 20 electoral staff, only 12 people showed up in the centre. People have returned to their homes again without casting their votes due to long waiting.
In the Sulaiman Maku School in Panjwai District of Kandahar, there were hundreds of voters, but only four polling stations have opened in where no electoral staffs and election observers were allowed to enter.
Finally, in Shahid Azam School of Kandahar, women’s polling stations opened late and women have had to wait for hours.
This provides a ground reality of the polling day in Kandahar.
Provincial IEC head in Kandahar has announced that the voting time for the province has now been extended by one hour, making the new deadline 5pm local time.
A number of Kandahar citizens say that the some of the female polling stations have declined operations due to technical problems with biometric devices and two polling stations have been merged.
Women’s rights activist in Kandahar, Anahita Rahimi, told reporterly that women have unprecedentedly participated in the election today, but their concern is that due to the delayed opening of a number of polling stations as well as reduction of polling stations, a number of eligible voters will not have the opportunity to vote.
” The center that I participated in, there was a long queue of women waiting their turn to vote which was really unpredictable. But due to biometric technical problems, two polling stations were merged into one, because of which, in my opinion, a lot of women would be deprived of voting unless the polling hours are extended”, she stated.
She added that the use of time-consuming biometric system is another challenge, in which the polling process for each voter will take more than four minutes.
Meanwhile, Lalay Dastgiri, a member of the Kandahar Provincial Council, told Reporterly that people have a huge turnout to the polls, which is why more time is needed for all of them to exercise their right to vote.
“Our demand from the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan is to extend the polling time in this province so that everyone can vote,” Mr. Dastgiri added.
The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) also said on Saturday morning that if the voters stay, the voting process will continue until 6 pm in Kandahar province.
Dr. Abdul Qayum Pukhla, head of Kandahar Public Health Department told Reporterly that about 24 Ambulance vehicles with the authorization of Kandahar Security Authorities have been designated in 5 locations (Kandahar Public Health Department, Mirwais Hospital, Adam Darmal Health center in PD 9, Alama Rishad Health center in Ainu Mina, Burbazar Etihad hospital) on election day to provide health care for the sick.
It is beacuse the ordinary transportation is banned in the city due to security concerns. From 2 pm yesterday, these services have continued and people from 15 PDs of the city can contact the numbers previously announced by the media and the ambulance is dispatched to those areas, transferring the patients to Mirwais Hospital. At the district level, the district health centers’; ambulances transmitted patients to the city’s gates and other ambulances trnsffers the patients to Mirwais Hospital from this point. So far, all ambulances have transmitted the general, emergency and obstetric patients.
Shah Wali Khan Achakzai, district chief of Takhta Pul spoke to Reporterly to inform that there are no serious problems in the district and the security is under control, but the only issue is that the process is slow due to the biometric system.
He said that there are 7 polling stations open in the district, but they are far from each other. “At the registration process, 16 stations were established in the province, but only 7 stations were designated by the commission and nine others were blocked by the commission. There were no security issues but for unknown reasons, the commission closed them.” Mr. Achakzai said.
Mr Achakzai added, “Although we talk to the governor and the commissioners, they promised to open the stations, but that was not done. Today, however, polling stations continue to operate normally.”
The newly appointed acting Police Chief of Kandahar, Tadeen Khan cast his ballot today in Kandahar for the elections.
Maj Gen Tadeen Khan was recently appointed to the post after his brother, Gen Razeq was assassinated in a Taliban attack last week. With Gen Raziq gone, the officials and ministers found it fitting to promote Tadeen Khan by first awarding him the Major General rank and then appointing him as the acting police chief of the province.
Abdul Bari Noori, a Tajik influential elder has told Reporterly that in Baz Mohammad, some areas of Spin Boldak district, where there are 8 polling stations in the Mujahideen district, the polling runs normally.
But in a few cases, the voter list was incomplete and people from other neighborhoods came to a different polling station in which they could not find their names on the list, but with the guidance of the observers, these problems were also solved.
There are 26 polling stations across Spin Boldak, in which the polling process is running normally and the biometric devices have no serious problems.
Officials of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) have pointed to the error that Kandahar elections have been delayed and are facing shortcomings like the election held last week.
The spokesman for the Electoral Complaints Commission, Alireza Rohani, told Radio Azadi, “Unfortunately, despite a week of preparation to hold parliamentary elections in Kandahar, we still have reports that a number of centers have been delayed and some have been closed due to technical challenges.”
Mr. Rohani stresses that this time the IEC has no longer justification for the existence of these challenges. They should have taken the necessary steps to address the challenges that we saw in the last week’s election, in a week-long opportunity that they had.
Meanwhile, IECC officials say that observers, candidates and citizens have the opportunity to register their complaints within three days after the parliamentary elections in Kandahar.
“With the start of parliamentary elections in Kandahar, voters, observers and candidates will have three days to file their complaints of electoral violations”, Alireza Rohani added.
Interior Ministry spokesman, Najib Danish, while addressing a joint press conference at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) today, said that more than 15,000 police forces have been commissioned to secure polling centres and stations and vulnerable corners of Kandahar.
Danish added that security situation in the center and districts of Kandahar is under control and there has not been any movement from the insurgents.
He added that 260 women have been tasked with the search and lining the women’s voters.
According to a statement issued by GMIC, the parliamentary elections in Kandahar have been delayed for a week. 173 centres with 1113 stations in the city and 15 districts of Kandahar have been opened since 7 am this morning.
According to the IDLG spokesperson, there is a smooth coordination between the Kandahar Provincial Office and the IEC officials, and voters turnout is considerable.
Although it is not allowed for candidate posters and other election prop and activity to be appearing in public once the electoral campaign silence set in last week, one spots a big poster of a candidate behind the long queue of voters in a polling station of Maiwand district in Kandahar.
The acting governor of Kandahar province, Abdulhanan Munib, in a joint press conference with the provincial election commission officials in the province, stressed that measures should be taken to solve the challenges in the polling centers.
“I call on the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to act as soon as possible to solve the existing challenges in the polling centers,” the Kandahar Media office quoted Mr. Munib.
The governor of Kandahar has also thanked the Afghan security forces for providing security and stressed that they would encourage people to participate in the election process.
A number of Kandahar local resources told Reporterly that several polling stations remain closed while four hours have passed since the polls officially began.
A political activist in Kandahar, Dawud Barakzai, told Reporterly that the biometric problem and the incomplete list of voters have so far resulted in a number of closed centres.”
According to him, the lack of staff in a number of polling centres is another challenge on election day.
“There is no security problem so far, but the technical problems are high at Kandahar’s center, there are two closed centres in Kandahar city,” said Mr Barakzai.
About 6,000 IEC personnel are currently working on Kandahar elections, Independent Election Commission (IEC) deputy spokesman, Aziz Ibrahimi, said today at a news conference in Kabul.
“4500 observers from various institutions are monitoring the election in Kandahar, The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission’s effort is to conduct a transparent and fraud-free election in the province”, he added.
At the same time, Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Najib Danish, has said that the province is currently under full security and has not received any reports of insecurity from the province.
“About 6,000 security forces including 260 female police are securing parliamentary elections across Kandahar, approximately 1000 of whom are stationed in Kandahar city,” Najib Danish added.
A number of candidates in Kandahar have said that in a number of districts in the province, the ballot boxes were ‘stuffed’ last night before the election, pointing to fraudulent voting practice.
One of the candidates, Sayed Ali Faisal, said in a television interview that: “Our reports show that the ballot boxes in a number of districts were casted last night.”
According to the Kandahar candidate, they are worried about widespread fraud in the elections in Kandahar, since election observers have not been allowed to monitor at a number of polling stations so far.
“Another concern is that in a number of polling centers, voting is currently ongoing without the supervision of electoral observers,” Mr. Faisal said.
As the elections begin in Kandahar today, it has been noted that a total of 111 candidates are contesting in the province for 11 seats in the Wolesi Jirga.
Some problems like Biometric hurdle, delays in opening of centres, and other technical issues persist, people of Kandahar have come out in good numbers to cast their ballot.
Footages and videos have emerged from Kandahar province showing that huge crowds have gathered in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar city.
Reportedly polling centers have opened in this neighbouring district which shares borders with Pakistan.
Spin Boldak is also the birth place of current acting police chief Tadeen Khan and the former police chief General Razeq who was assassinated last week by a Taliban insurgent.
Shabika Hashemi, a candidate from Kandahar and a standing MP has informed Reporterly about the many problems Kandahar faces on election day:
“The biometric system does not work in most parts of the center of Kandahar. The polls have not yet started in some schools in the city, the staff has not yet arrived and electoral equipment has not yet reached, the voter list is incomplete. Our observers have not been allowed to enter.
Fazil Kandahari, Aino No. 2, Timur Shahi, Zarghuna high schools are the centers with technical problems and are still closed. The list of voters is incomplete in center located in Department of Economy, and the word “F” has not yet arrived.
The turnout is high, but people have started to leave due to closure of the center.
There is no problem with the security situation, but the equipment of the election commission is not complete and has caused problems.”
The spokesperson to governor of Kandahar, Aziz Ahmad Aziz, told Reporterly that urban transportation has been prepared for a number of voters coming from remote villages.
“A number of polling centers are located far from the villages and there was concern that a number of voters would be deprived of voting because of the inaccessibility,” he added.
According to him, several buses are now transferring voters to polling centers.
A social media user has reported that after the elections were kicked off in Kandahar, there are biometric hurdles that are persistent in some centres- Taimur Shah High School, Zarghuna Ana High School, Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan high school.
Because of the problems these centres have become congested according to a Facebook user.
The Afghan Security Forces have assured that they will not allow any insurgent to disrupt the electoral proceedings and polling in Kandahar today.
Afghan Security Forces will not allow anyone to disturb election and voting process in #Kandahar province. Afghan Special Forces (CRU 444) deployed in Kandahar to support security of the #election.
Proud #ANDSF.@moiafghanistan @MoDAfghanistan @ResoluteSupport @IECAfghanistan pic.twitter.com/T6jk2IMRSn
— A.M Abdulrahimzai (@AbMoqim) October 27, 2018
The CRU 444 Afghan Special Forces have been deployed in the province to aid in security measures’ enforcement.
Kandahar’s provincial acting governor, Abdul Hanan Munib, has visited a number of polling stations in the city of Kandahar, saying they are trying to resolve the challenges in polling stations as soon as possible.
The Kandahar Provincial Media Center has said the provincial governor has called on the officials of the Provincial Independent Election Commission to communicate the challenges they face in the process with the authorities.