Afghans unable to vote in Saturday’s parliamentary election after hundreds of polling stations failed to open were given another chance to cast their ballot on Sunday after voting times were extended despite security threats and warnings of fraud. Around three million Afghans voted on Saturday, officials said but across the country there were complaints that polling stations remained closed, often because staff failed to turn up.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a statement saying it was encouraged by the high numbers who voted on Saturday, many of whom endured long delays due to technical and organizational problems. “Those eligible voters who were not able to cast their vote, due to technical issues, deserve the right to vote,” it said.
The Sunday extension was made for 401 polling stations and 500 extra officials were deployed but only 253 actually opened, with the remainder closed for security reasons, Abdul Bade Sayad, chairman of the election commission told reporters.
Armed men loyal to local power brokers in some provinces entered polling stations by force and broke election materials which caused serious irregularities, said Sayad.
Many independent election observers, seen as an important check on efforts to manipulate the result, have been reluctant to work, fearing militant attacks. On Sunday, the bodies of four observers were found in the northern province of Balkh after they had been abducted a day earlier and shot.