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Afghan officials to probe botched legislative elections: commission

Afghan woman casts her vote at polling station in Herat [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 October, 2018

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Less than half of the 9 million Afghans who registered to vote cast their ballots as thousands of complaints about polls were reported.

Afghan election officials vowed on Monday to investigate the weekend's legislative ballot, as voters prepare to wait weeks for the results in the problem-filled polls.

About four million voted in the years-delayed vote, less than half of the nine million who registered to participate, despite voting being extended by a day after many technical and operational glitches were documented.

Many polling centres were seen opening late or not at all due to problems with biometric verification devices and missing or incomplete voter rolls.

"Bearing in mind that nine million Afghans had registered, turnout can hardly be said to have been good," Afghanistan Analysts Network said in a report.   

Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission said earlier it had received "thousands of reports of problems" over the weekend.

"We have assigned a commission to investigate the mismanagement and violations, including the late opening of the centres and use of biometric devices," IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad told reporters on Monday. 

The IEC has been heavily criticised over the chaotic vote which was marred by scores of militant attacks that an AFP tally showed killed or wounded nearly 300 civilians and security forces. 

Long queues of men and women were seen outside polling sites across the war-torn country, despite the Taliban's repeated threats to attack the ballot.

The Taliban had in the lead up called the polls a "malicious American conspiracy" and said they would pull no punches to disrupt the legislative ballot.

More than 2,500 candidates, including mullahs, journalists and sons of warlords, competed for 249 seats in the lower house. 

Preliminary results are scheduled to be released on November 10.  

The IEC's chronic mishandling of the vote, which was three years late and largely funded by the international community, has all but dashed hopes it can competently organise the presidential ballot, scheduled for April.

Conflict is also driving the ability to carry out polls.

This year has already proved to be the deadliest in Afghanistan's 17-year-war. Suicide bombs caused 2,343 civilian casualties so far, more than any other tactic, including ground fighting, according to a recent UN report. 

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