/Record low turnout for Afghanistan election

Record low turnout for Afghanistan election

Woman casting her voteImage copyright

Turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election was the lowest since a coalition ousted the Taliban in 2001, preliminary data suggests.

Figures from the country’s Independent Election Commission suggest around 25% of the country’s 9.6m registered voters took part.

If confirmed, that would put turnout lower than in Afghanistan’s three previous presidential elections.

The vote was held amid heavy security and deadly bomb attacks from militants.

In Afghanistan’s first presidential election in 2004, turnout was recorded at 70%.

After that, 2009 turnout dropped to around a third, before reportedly doubling in the first round in 2014.

The preliminary data for the 2019 vote is from 3,736 polling centres out of around 4,000 centres in total.

From those centres, around 2.19m votes were counted – if the trend continues, final turnout would be around 25%.

The low turnout is in part attributed to widespread safety concerns during Sunday’s vote.

The Taliban had threatened to attack polling stations and targeted election rallies before the polling day.

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan expects to announce the results in three weeks.

More than 70,000 members of the security forces were deployed across the country to protect voters.

But despite that, at least five people were killed and 80 wounded in bomb and mortar attacks on voting centres.

Authorities extended voting hours to give more time for people to cast their ballot.

Large areas of the country are under Taliban control, where the Kabul government has little to no power.

Why does this election matter?

The two main candidates are incumbent Ashraf Ghani, and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who have shared power since 2014.

Whoever wins will lead a country devastated by four decades of war while the conflict continues to kill thousands of people every year.

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Media captionIs peace with the Taliban possible?

Talks between the United States and the Taliban collapsed after US President Donald Trump declared them “dead” earlier this month.

The Taliban refuse to negotiate directly with the Afghan government, saying it is illegitimate. They say they will only talk to Afghan authorities after a deal with the US is agreed.

The US currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and there are thousands more from a Nato mission to train, advise and assist the country’s own security forces.

Who are the contenders?

Eighteen men – including former warlords, ex-spies and members of the country’s former communist government – initially put themselves forward to fight the election, but five have dropped out.

Not one woman is running for president, and only three women appear on the tickets of others.

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BBC Monitoring

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