|Afghans go to poll to pick new president||
Afghans go to the polls on Saturday, April 5, to elect a president to succeed Hamid Karzai, who has governed the country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, but cannot contest for a third consecutive term, as per the rules of the Afghan Constitution.
The country appears all geared up for the presidential election, amidst repeated terror attacks by the Taliban, which is using all its power to destabilize the electoral process.
The capital Kabul and all the electoral machinery seem to be the Taliban’s prime target, clearly aimed at creating panic among voters to keep them away from voting.
The Taliban seem to be considerably successful, as schools, colleges and most offices, particularly the internationals NGOs (INGOs) have shut offices, and most foreign workers, including several election observers, have left the country. Kabul has turned into virtual army cantonment, and residents have been advised to stay indoors as much as possible.
Security tightened ahead of poll
Meanwhile, the government is stepping up security nationwide before a election already hit by deadly Taliban violence.
The Defence Ministry says nearly 200,000 police and troops are being deployed at polling stations.
The Taliban has vowed to do its utmost to disrupt Saturday’s vote, which will find a successor to President Hamid Karzai who is constitutionally barred from standing again.
On Wednesday, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up outside Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry in central Kabul, killing himself and at least six policemen.
Taliban insurgents also killed nine civilians including a provincial council candidate in northern Afghanistan, local officials said.
Kandahar city, cradle of the Taliban insurgency, woke up a ghost town on Friday as police erected roadblocks as part of stringent security measures ahead of election, Reuters reported.
The empty streets followed an order from the police chief to block off key areas to try to ensure security in a town with a difficult history.
For Afghans, police checks of their cars are a price to pay in the name of safety.
“I’m happy with these searches,” one man told Euronews in the capital. “I have some concerns about election security but we trust in God. And I am happy with how the police are treating us.”
This is a key test for Afghanistan’s fledgling security forces, as most foreign troops prepare to pull out.
Civilians have increasingly been caught up in the violence, with militants warning that they will be targeted if they try to vote this weekend. However, that has not deterred the Afghans, who are tired of decades of conflict and are happy with the new form of democracy with all its shortcomings. From young to old, everyone is eagerly anticipating the polls.
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