Officials from the Resolute Support Mission (RS) in Afghanistan on Sunday said they will support the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in maintaining security during the upcoming parliamentary elections.
RS officials made the remarks at an elections security meeting at the Presidential Palace that was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, RS officials, security officials from the interior and defense ministries and officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Sunday’s meeting was the final meeting between the participants over security around elections.
Andrew Poppas, a senior NATO official in Kabul, said RS will provide comprehensive support to the ANDSF to implement the election security plan, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
“There are many enemies who will try to silence the voice of the people, but the fact that over nine million people have registered to vote should inspire us all. And as we have seen, where the Afghan people and Afghan leadership have committed themselves, they have all succeeded. So there is no doubt that the results in elections will proceed safely and securely… the RS support is to make sure that we are there to provide the resources and the back stop for the Afghan security forces to ensure that they go forward,” said Poppas.
The Afghan security departments meanwhile said they will do whatever they can to safeguard the lives of voters on election day.
“I am sure that by making the election a success and by maintaining security over elections to help people vote, we will win the war of 1397 (2018),” Afghan Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali said.
“Based on the law, 48 hours before the election day, no one has the right to launch demonstrations or close roads,” the interior deputy minister for security Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi said.
President Ashraf Ghani meanwhile said at the meeting the use of a biometric system on election day is a huge advantage adding that it will bring transparency to this national process.
“Our difference with the Taliban is that we refer and rely on people’s vote, but Taliban rely on their rifles,” said Ghani.
Ghani went on to say security forces should stay out of politics and that if a soldier interferes in elections, he will immediately will be handed over to legal and judicial centers.
“If I see one member of the security forces interfering in elections, he will get suspended and will be prosecuted,” Ghani added.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayyad meanwhile said security of voters and candidates should be maintained and urged security departments to take action against those who want to disrupt elections.
“As much as the security departments cooperate with us, we will carry out our activities better,” said Sayyad.
The final security meeting on elections security was held despite the absence of an estimated 2,000 polling stations that will remain closed, said the IEC and security departments.
The IEC said polling stations will total 5,100 – down from the planned 7,000. This is due to various reasons, the main one being security.