Afghanistan people have voted in large number in the Permanent elections on Saturday, ignoring attacks and threats from Talibans. More than 170 people were killed or wounded in poll related violence during attacks on various polling booths.
Fifteen people were killed and another 60 wounded when a suicide bomber tried to enter a polling station in northern Kabul. Eight of the dead were policemen who stopped the attacker at the first security check point, just before he set off his explosives, according to Nasratullah Rahimi, deputy spokesman for Afghan Ministry of Interior.
The parliamentary elections being postponed since 2015 due to various reasons, were held yesterday, but marred by sporadic attacks throughout the day, along with reports of long lines and millions of people casting ballots.
The Taliban had issued repeated warnings of attacks on polling stations and all election related activity. The threats, however, were not enough to keep many registered voters home. “We are not afraid of threats because we want to build our country. Today we had a lot of threats, but we are still here to vote,” said Fariba, a female voter in Kabu.
The chairman of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, Gulajan Bade Sayad, said more than 2 million Afghans had voted in 27 provinces by 2 p.m. local time. The highest turnout, 638,000 votes, was in Kabul. Faryab saw the lowest number of votes cast.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said last night that it was encouraged by the large turnout by Afghans to exercise their constitutional right to vote for representatives of their choosing. It also emphasized steps being taken in light of the violence.
Voting was carried out in 32 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. More than 2,500 candidates are competing for the 249 seats in the next parliament. Some 400 female candidates are among them, competing for 68 seats reserved for women.
Hamdullah Mohib, the National Security Adviser of Afghanistan, said the Taliban had been trying to show that Afghans could not handle this process all on their own, but they will be proven wrong. These are the first elections since the fall of the Taliban that are primarily managed by the Afghan government, including security arrangements.