Afghanistan: Kandahar goes to polls after week's delay

By Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Voters in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar are going to the polls in parliamentary elections on Saturday, one week later than the rest of the country, delayed due to a high-profile assassination.

Voting started at 7.00 a.m. local time [0230 GMT] and is due to end at 4.00 p.m. local time [1230GMT], according to Nematullah Wardak, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC).

Kandaharians will cast their votes in 173 polling stations across the province. Ballot boxes could not be set up in two Kandahar districts, Nesh and Maruf, due to security concerns.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said tight security measures were being taken in order to ensure safe voting.

The one-week delay resulted from the assassination of Kandahar Police Chief Abdul Raziq Achakzai two days before last weekend’s election.

According to the Independent Election Commission, at least 8.8 million people have been issued voter cards to cast votes for 2,500 candidates seeking seats in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament).

Preliminary results of the elections held on Oct. 20-21 are expected to be announced on Nov. 10, while final results are due by Dec. 20.

The Taliban, who have declared war on the government, warned people against taking part in the elections.

On the first day of the elections, 15 people were killed in a suicide attack in the capital Kabul.

At least 193 attacks targeting elections were carried out on Election Day, killing at least 36 people.