News - Election 2014
According to Afghan officials, seven districts remain without voter registration offices. Sediq Sediqi, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman, said Sunday that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) lack any presence in four of the seven districts, and floated a proposal for residents of those districts to be registered elsewhere.
"Four districts where the IEC can't open registration centers have problems, security forces don't exist in these four districts," said Sediqi.
Reportedly, the districts that remain deprived of registration services are in Helmand, Ghazni, Farah and Nuristan provinces, all of which are considered some of the most restive areas of the country.
Security preparations for the upcoming spring elections have been extensive and the focus of much attention, yet setbacks persist and many experts are concerned security issues could cause a low voter-turnout. Although most are worried about security threats dissuading voters from showing up to the polls, the complete lack of registration facilities in seven districts presents a much more obvious obstacle.
While acknowledging that the ANSF have no presence in four out of the seven districts, MoI officials shifted responsibility to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and suggested it develop a plan to register residents of the non-serviceable districts in neighboring ones where registration offices did exist.
"For instance, Disho and Boghran districts of Helmand...Disho has very few residents, so they can get voting cards from adjoining districts," said Sediqi
IEC officials scoffed at the proposal, saying it could not be done. Instead, they suggested the MoI take action to improve security in the insurgent-run districts.
"They should take measures in the areas where there are problems," said Noor Mohammad Noor, the IEC spokesman. "It is impossible for us to move people from district to district."
The voter registration process has seen a number of delayed office openings due to insecurity and issues getting voter cards to women and isolated, rural residents. Nevertheless, over 2.2 million people have been registered this year, over 700,000 of which were women.
In addition to admitting to the complete lack of security forces in the majority of provinces inaccessible to the IEC, MoI officials touted a number of successful operations that had been launched around the country in the past week.
They said over 40 clearing operations were executed in Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Farah, and Paktya provinces.
"In total, 113 insurgents have been killed; police forces succeed in disabling 45 mines...also 4100 KG explosive, 29 arms, two suicide vests were seized and six suicide bombers killed," Sediqi announced.