Elections in Maidan Wardak: Increased Security Concerns and 50 Voting Centers Closed

Elections in Maidan Wardak: Increased Security Concerns and 50 Voting Centers Closed

15 Oct 2018

With 5 days to go before the Afghan parliamentary elections, the people are waiting for a transparent and comprehensive elections process. Despite the fact that out of 34 provinces, 33 provinces will witness elections, Ghazni is a province that has not yet been included in this year’s parliamentary elections, although electoral enthusiasm can be seen in other provinces.

It’s been several days since the campaign kicked off, and every candidate is doing their best to win the people’s trust in different areas. But what is more important nowadays is the deteriorating security situation which is making Afghans wary and concerned.

Maidan Wardak is one of the central provinces in Afghanistan in which right after the beginning of the electoral and voter registration processes, the people have actively tried to play their role in electing their representatives. But the security situation in this province indicates that holding the elections in this circumstance might be one of the hardest possible things to do.

On Tuesday,  9th Oct, 2018, the Taliban once again attacked Sayed Abad district in Maidan Wardak, as reported by local sources. Despite all odds, officials in the province seem to be satisfied with the popularity of the elections amongst people and  according to them, the turnout in the process has been satisfactory.

Elections in Maidan Wardak

For the parliamentary campaign in Maidan Wardak, 40 candidates, including 9 women have taken part. For the province of 800,000 people, 5 people, including 2 women and 3 male, are going to be entering the Lower house of Afghanistan as people’s representatives.

Maidan Wardak is one of the central provinces in Afghanistan in which right after the beginning of the electoral and voter registration processes, the people have actively tried to play their role in electing their representatives

According to the Independent Elections Commission’s report, 142,095 individuals had registered as voters in the province, and 100,391 of them constitute the men while  41,090 others are women. Out of the total number of registered voters, 614 are nomads.

But the governor’s spokesman told Khabarnama: “The electoral process is carried out in the interest of people in the province, and the total registrants are 162,932, including 615 nomads, 114,573 male and 47,775 female voters.”

Dr. Nematollah Wardak, a former provincial governor’s office caretaker, also told Khabarnama: “Based on the encouragement of tribal elders, the number of registrants has reached nearly 163,000, but  women participation is still not substantive with the exception of three districts-1st part of Behsud, central Behsud and some parts of Jalrez.”

In Maidan Wardak, 157 polling centers were designated by IEC, but with the current security situation in the province, only 107 centers’ operation seems possible.

57 centers without voters’ registration

“Although people had a lot of enthusiasm for registration in the process, in some of the districts facing security challenges, the voter registration process had not taken place, and many people were not able to register in the process.” Mohammad Sardar Bakhtiari, a member of the Wardak Provincial Council, told Khabarnama.

“The voter registration process was conducted in three terms at the provincial level, districts and distanced areas within the province, and in general the people’s presence was good considering  the current security situation,” the former provincial IEC chief told Khabarnama.

In Maidan Wardak, 157 polling centers were designated by IEC, but with the current security situation in the province, only 107 centers’ operation seems possible

“The 157 polling centers in Maidan Wardak have been designated by the Central IEC office, 50 of which have been blocked by the Maidan Wardak Elections Commission since the beginning of the voter registration process, and now, 107 are presumed to be open on the election day.” He added. These (the closed ones) centers are located in Dai Mirdad , one in Nerkh and two further in Sayed Abad district.

The Security Calculations

Mohammad Sardar Bakhtiari, a member of Maidan Wardak Provincial Council pointed out that “Maidan Wardak is composed of 9 administrative parts; the safe areas of this province are Behsud Center; 1st and 2ndBehsud. A part from this, Dai Mirdad district is of good level of safty, and the security situation in the capital city is also good, but the security situation in Nirkh district, which is three to four kilometers from the center, is volatile. The same applies to Jeghato and Chak districts.”

However, the highways crossing this province also face security problems.

“Although people are eager to play their role in choosing their representatives for lower house on the elections day, they have been repressed as they observe the current security situation.  After the collapse of Dai Mirdad and Sayed Abad district centers, the concerns regarding turnout in elections has increased.” said Abdul Qayoom Rastmal, a civil society activist in Maidan Wardak. He also added, “Taliban high security threat against Jeghato district reinforces their [people’s] concerns.”

According to him, the capital city and parts of Behsud districts are under the control of the security forces.

But considering the views of the local officials and civil activists in the province, the Governor’s spokesman Abdul Rahman Mangal responded by saying that, “On the security situation; Maidan Shahr, two districts of Jeghato and Dai Mirdad face high threats, but Seyed Abad, Chak, and Jalriz are among the districts with less security problems, and two other districts have no problems, which is Behesud’s center and the first Behsud.”

The spokesman added: “The enemy sporadically attacks some parts which leads to some problems as in the other provinces.  We do have areas that are completely under the control of the enemy fighters.”

The spokesman stated that all plans and measures have been taken to hold transparent and inclusive elections in the province. “The provincial governor’s plans enforce some measures to be put into place by the security forces to run on Election Day,” he said.

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