All Updates and Live Reporting from Across Afghanistan.
The district governor of Shibar in Bamiyan, Mohammad Azim Farid has informed Reporterly that 15 polling centres were open in the district and the polling centres saw excellent voter turnout.
Fortunately, the district faces no technical problems. The only one centre that is shut is in the village of Kondi and that was due to security threats.
According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), it is not clear as of now, the number of polling centers in which the voting process will take place tomorrow.
IEC Commissioner, Moazaullah Dawlati, said to Hasht-e-Sobh Daily: “the IEC Technical staffs are working on this issue, and the exact figure will be announced at a press conference in less than an hour.”
According to the commission, 92% of polling centres are open all over the country and only 8% remain blocked.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced earlier that in those centres that remained closed till 1 P.M today, the voting will be held tomorrow.
The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has decided that in centres where there is no way to use biometric machines, voters can vote in the presence of election observers without biometric devices.
According to a statement by the IEC, “In centers where biometric machines have failed to work or not reached, technical measures should first be taken in this regard, and if this does not happen, then the devices of closed centres shall be used. In case the problem persists, people will be allowed to vote on the basis of the voter list. However, it is important that ultimately, the head of centres and the observers should report the matter to the commission in detail. ”
Meanwhile, the IEC added in the statement regarding the delay in the voting process in a number of polling centres by saying that “Those centres that were not open until 9:00 am, will be open to voters until 6:00 pm. Also, the centers which were not open until 1:00 pm today, will have voting resumed tomorrow.”
As told by the district governor of Waras in Bamyan, Rustam Ali Panahi, to Reporterly, “the printers have been broken in two centres, Qala Sukhta in Petabjoy and Baqi Mosque in Sarab.”
Mr Panahi also added that although, new biometric systems have been sent to these centers for replacement, due to impassable and mountainous routes along the way, the voting process has faced considerable delay.
The district governor of Panjab, Bamyan, Sharif Aminyar, while informing Reporterly about the status of election day in the Panjab district said that “all 42 polling centres are open in the district and and the voting began today at 7,”, also clarifying that there are fewer problems being faced there like “some problems with biometric devices in the village of Shina.”
In fact, even the turnout of voters is considerable.
The district governor of Kahmard, Bamyan, Mahmood Saighani, told Reporterly that although all 19 polling centres are open, the district faces some issues with biometric devices in 2 centres creating trouble (Bajgah and Dasht-e-Safid).
It s also reported that no devices have been sent to Loranj villiage.
“Considering the delays and technical problems that have occurred today in a large number of polling stations, we assure that every eligible voter will have the chance to vote and nobody should be deprived of this right,” said second vice president Danish in a statement.
He called on all people to come to the polls without any frustration or fear and to contribute to determining their political destiny.
National Security Advisor Mohammad Anif Moheb was pictured as he cast his ballot at the Amani high school in Kabul today.
Fulfilled my democratic duty by voting today. Enemies of Afghanistan should know that their threats did not deter the Afghan people from determining our own future. Thanks to our brave ANDSF for protecting this critical national process. Long live Afghanistan! https://t.co/CcwxyvfVf4
— Hamdullah Mohib (@hmohib) October 20, 2018
Atta Mohammad Noor, in a statement on facebook expressed that he and his fellow citizens took part in the voting process today to strengthen demoracy of the country and ‘respect will of the people’. However, he expresses frustration by pointing out that he notices various 2014 election fallacies being repeated yet again, possibly landing the current process into a cycle of fraud.
He brought attention to the problem of biometric devices being tricky and complex in usage. Moreover, he pointed out the lack of punctuality in the opening of polling stations across the country due to various reasons.
Furthermore, he brought to light the fact that “when voters visit the same polling centres as was printed on their tazkiras sticker, either their names do not match the list of those centres or the name of the voters of the same centers is not on the list, which causes anger and discouragement of the people. They have returned without casting their votes. ”
Citing the instance of Balkh, Atta Mohammad Noor pointed out that “the 209 Shahin corps forces are stationed by the central government, against the policy of the Election Commission to provide security for providing security of a specific centre for a specific candidate. The question is that if this was the case, why do other candidates not enjoy this privilege?
“, thus raising questions over the consistency in providing security to all voters alike.
Concluding his message, Mr Noor said that such faulty practices on election day “will lead to widespread injustice and the IEC and government of Afghanistan is responsible for that.”
It has been assured by a spokesperson to first vice president General Dostum that the elections are running ‘smoothly’ in Andkhoi, Qurghan, Khan Chenar and Aqiana Port areas of the Faryab province.
The spokesperson, Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, who is also a candidate in Faryab has assured that the balloting is continuing without any security hurdles.
This comes after there were grave concerns surrounding security in the province.
It has been confirmed by the police chief of Yakawlang 2 that the voting began there at 8 A.M. However, ballot paper problems have been reported which includes inconsistencies in voter names, sticker numbers, and absence of names altogether.
Police chief Ahmadi also added that there are problems with biometrics as well but they were fortunately resolved by the IEC.
TEFA director Naeem Ayuobzada in an interview to TOLONews expressed that in Afghanistan many decisions are taken at the last minute which is why issues like biometric device use become unfeasible to operate. As per estimates of TEFA, 9% of voting centres do not have the technology and 32% of those that have it are facing technical problems.
Expressing happiness on the participation of voters he witnessed today, UK Ambassador Sir Nicholas Kay, after having visited a polling centre in Kabul issued a statement: “Today on election day I saw the will of the people to have their say in the future of Afghanistan. Men and women were lining up in large numbers to elect members of parliament who can help deliver more security and prosperity for their families and communities.
These elections are being led and organised entirely by Afghans.”
The UK ambassador also added that he was pleased to meet the officials from various election management bodies and observers on his visit. He was happy to see that members of civil society were actively contributing in the voting process. Finally he assured that the international community stands with the democratic practice of Afghanistan.
IDLG has informed that the female voter turnout at various polling centres in Nimroz has been impressive.
This comes as there are issues surfacing across centres with respect to delay in balloting.
In a press conference, the IEC spokesperson Shaima Alam Soroush explained the causes of various issues being faced on election day. Firstly, the IEC informed that due to security impediments, the teachers who were formally trained to carry out duties on election day could not make it to the polling centres and on a short notice, various capital and provincial staff were called to compensate for the absence of teachers.
Furthermore, spokesperson Soroush also expressed that since the biometric technology is a new element in balloting this time, there might be minor hurdles. Also assuring about proper safety and security, she said that the security forces are doing their work to ensure citizens are safe.
Finally, the on behalf of IEC, Ms Soroush expressed regret and apologised for the challenges that people faced like closed centres or delays in the start of voting and asked people to bear with the new process which includes biometric technology.
The Independent Election Commission Chairman, in a live presser clarified about two issues that election day faces. For those polling centres that were not opened until 1 P.M, the elections will be held for them on Sunday.
Moreover, in those polling stations where commencement of balloting was delayed, the IEC has announced an extension of polling deadline up to 8 P.M on Saturday.
Addressing the concerns raised with respect to the above two issues, the IEC has clarified that the root cause may have been because of teachers who were trained to use biometric technology but failed to operate them properly anyway.
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani issued a statement on Saturday after casting his vote to express to fellow Afghans that this exercise of casting vote is a message of “no” to terrorism and backwardness.
While addressing the statement to Afghans, Mr Rabbani added “you also rise and use this right responsibly for the sake of bright future of Afghanistan.”
The foreign minister also believes that the onus of protecting people’s vote and safeguarding their trust in democracy solely falls on the organising institutions.
من از حق شهروندي ام براي نه گفتن به تروريزم و عقبگرايي استفاده كردم؛ تو نيز برخيز و از اين حق، مسئولانه براي فرداي روشن افغانستان استفاده كن. مسئوليت نهادهاي برگزاركننده است تا از رأي و اعتماد مردم به مردم سالاري پاسداري كنند و نگذارند مردم به اين پروسه بي اعتمادشوند. pic.twitter.com/wF48mvRPcR
— Salahuddin Rabbani (@SalahRabbani) October 20, 2018
Observers of the Free and Fair Election Forum for Afghanistan (FEFA) report that security threats are severe in the provinces of Baghlan and Kunduz and the districts of these two provinces. According to the observers “A Mortar has been hit at a polling center in the center of Kunduz, where there is no information on the casualties. After the strike, people are reported by the observers to be scared and scattered and another mortar has hit a polling center in Baghlan as well.”
A reporter from Etilaat-e-Roz who is stationed at the FEFA to review the reports of the observers, has also been quoted by the FEFA in their statement to show that there is a lack of familiarity and operational efficiency by the IEC staff with respect to biometric devices which “is a serious problem in different parts of the country.”
According to the observers in Badakhshan, there are “biometrics problems” as well. The staff is observed to not have known as to how to use biometric devices. An additional problem reported by FEFA is the issue of voter names being incosistent with the name of the voter list in this province.
“The voting process in the Daikundi and Bamyan provinces run smoothly,” FEFA informs, and “The voting process in these two provinces began at 7 o’clock in the morning and so far there is no serious problem and no concern.”
As per a statement issued by the GMIC, the president has examined the general security situation of the provinces in which the elections are being held.
The statement read: “The president of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, today examined the general security situation of all the provinces in which the elections are held at the Controlling Operation Center of Ministry of Interior’s.”
As per the statement, the
president also thanked the officials of the security and defense sector for their work to ensure the security of the parliamentary elections and he “emphasized the success of this national process.”
The president finally reiterated and called on his fellow citizens to “go to the ballot boxes and, by casting their votes, set their future and institutionalize the democratic process.”
University professor Ali Vaezi posted a testimony of his electoral experience on social media, writing “I went to Mohammadia mosque in PD 3 (Kabul) to vote at around 11:00 AM. The voters and a large number of electoral observers had gathered at the front of the mosque. A number of voters were also inside the courtyard of the mosque, but the observers were not allowed to enter. At this centre, the poll started at 10 A.M. Several observers complained that they were not allowed to enter, saying that the police had beaten one of them.
I left the place after twenty minutes”
This shows instances of intimidation by authorities towards observers who ensure transparency and fairness in the balloting. Kabul is witnessing major impediments on election day.
As documented by a Nangarhar parliamentary candidate, Ms Lailuma Wali Hakimi, “we have been told since seven in the morning that the voting process will start, but the poll started at 9:30 am while there have been irregularities in ballot papers and the system is working slow, But the turnout of people is dramatic.”
This comes after several reports on social media have surfaced about technical issues and delays in opening of balloting across districts in the country.
Former NDS Chief Rahmatullah Nabil while casting his vote at the polling centre expressed that when citizens of Afghanistan practice this basic right of electing their representatives by casting their vote, they are enforcing a solution to defeat the enemies of Afghanistan.
He also added that participation amidst the high-security alerts and threats is a show of great patriotic spirit by the people.
The spokespersons of various ministries and bodies like IDLG at a news conference in GMIC today assured of the election security, asking people to cast their votes without fear.
Interior Ministry spokesman, Najib Danesh, said that 4900 polling stations with more than 20,000 polling centres in 32 provinces, excluding Kandahar and Ghazni, are open to voters and 70,000 security and defence forces are busy securing these sites.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Defense spokesman Seyed Ghafur Ahmad Jawid reassured of the election security and added that the sensitive electoral materials by the Ministry have been already transferred to 32 provinces and districts.
Moreover, Sayed Shah Saqim, a spokesman for IDLG, said that the voting process is prevalent 32 provinces and no problems have been reported so far.
The spokespersons from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has also called on citizens, especially women, to cast their votes.
In his facebook status update, Mohammad Ali Akhlaqi, the MP from Ghazni has expressed the representative frustration of many voters regarding various unresolved issues by IEC.
Speaking on his social media, Mr Akhlaqi said “The IEC should respond. it is 11:10 and the polling station in Nabi Akram mosque is still closed”
Elections have begun across provinces in Afghanistan but there are multiple reports via official statements to Kabul by the people and social media posts about various issues that are undermining the efficiency of elections.
The biggest challenge facing the balloting is the huge number of closed polling stations, a majority of which have been reported in Kabul (especially western part). Another issue that is haunting the process is the complex natured biometric technology hurdle which is creating too many delays in the process, causing the queues of voters to be longer than required and testing voter patience.
In some polling centres, the voting itself has begun after delays due to technical issues or because of an absence of election staff like teachers.
Amidst a massive thread of complaints regarding closed centres and the long delay in commencement of voting process, the IEC has come out with a clarification stating that the voting process began late because there is a severe absence of recruited teachers.
The teachers make up a huge chunk of electoral staff on election day.
Zabul provincial council member Haji Mohammad Qiyam informed Reporterly that until 10 am, the voting process had not begun in Zabul province.
However, after having forwarded this issue to the IEC, it was addressed and resolved well in time, according to Mr Qiyam and the balloting process is set to begin in full swing.
Yet another testimony has been posted on social media, this time by candidate Latif Fayaz. The candidate from Kabul has reported that almost 90% of the polling centres in western Kabul are closed and not operational.
The voting process in Bamyan begins with the governor and the provincial authorities casting their votes.
Bamiyan governor, Mohammad Tahir Zohair, after speaking with the media, has assured the commencement of the voting process in Bamiyan province.
According to Bamiyan’s governor, all sensitive and other electoral materials have already reached in the polling centres.
Mr. Zohair assured of proper security at the provincial level and said security measures have been taken to prevent any issue and hurdles for the voters.
There are 220 polling centres in Bamyan, and all of these centres are open. The voting process began timely in the morning.