Elections Security Still Officials’ Main Concern

KABUL: (MEP) – With just under six months left until the Presidential and Provincial council elections, security remains a major concern for election officials as well as the public.

While the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has prioritized securing voter registration sites and preparing for polls opening in April in hopes insecurity will not cause low voter turnout, it has also had to consider the safety of its own personnel.

Already, the IEC has seen its Kunduz provincial chief assassinated, two of its employees in Faryab abducted and number of others killed by roadside bombs in Ghor and Baghlan provinces.

But the Election Commission maintains that it has and continues to do everything it can to improve security around the elections, tolo reported.

“We have always shared our security concerns with the security institutions and held several meetings with them in this respect,” IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Wednesday. “The security of our workers and voter registration centers must be maintained.”

Although the numbers of districts cut off from the IEC due to security threats have diminished since the voter registration process began in June, Ministry of Interior officials recently reported that seven remain un-served.

Last week, IEC Commissioners suggested Afghan security officials seek help from coalition forces for their operations related to the elections. However, that recommendation was rebuked and officials maintained they would only need help from NATO-led forces in the transportation of ballots on April 5, election day.

Afghan security officials have been given immense power, and responsibility, in their preparations.

“All our energy will be dedicated to the security of the upcoming elections, we assure all that the security institutions will tackle any security threats to the elections,” said Sediq Sediqi, the MoI’s spokesman.

Out of the total number of 6,845 polling stations, 3,435 of them are said to not face any security threats. But 945 centers have been categorized under low security threat, 1,047 under medium security threat and 1,135 under serious security threat.

The MoI recently announced the establishment of a special Commission dedicated to overseeing election security. The Commission will bring together security officials from a variety of branches and focus on securing registration centers, polls, election employees, candidates and official observers.

President Hamid Karzai is said to have kept a close eye on security issues related to the elections while he has more publically focused on making inroads on the Taliban peace process before stepping down in April.

The 2014 Presidential elections could mark the country’s first democratic transition of Presidential power in history. More broadly, the elections have been presented as a pivotal moment for the country as it looks to build on the successes of the past twelve years and fend for itself as foreign troops withdraw.

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