Afghan polls off to slow start owing to technical glitches

Afghan polls off to slow start owing to technical glitches 

Afghan men arrive to cast their vote at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Herat, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2018. EPA-EFE/JALIL REZAYEE

Kabul, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Queues grew long and impatient in front of some polling stations in Afghanistan on Saturday as voting got off to a slow start owing to mismanagement and technical glitches, although a majority of the voters were happy to be able to cast their vote.

The voting was expected to begin at 7 am across the country, but in some polling stations it started at around 9 am and in some even later.

“The management is very weak, I came here at 7 am but voting opened only after 9 am,” Yahya Tanin, an observer of a candidate in Tajwar-e-Sultani school polling site in Taimani area of the city told EFE.

In some of the polling stations biometric devices were malfunctioning, while in others election materials, including ballots, did not arrive on time.

Despite the problems, however, most Afghans were happy that they got to vote in the elections, that were delayed by three years.

Turnout was high in at least five polling stations that were visited by efe-epa journalists.

“I am very happy that I could cast my vote for a person who I think would work for development of the country. I am sure my vote is for my bright future and for the prosperity of the country,” Gharib Muhammad, 20, a student told EFE.

“I cast my vote to choose a good lawmaker, who can work for his people not for his personal interest. The voting process was good although the management was very bad,” Naweed, 22, a day laborer told EFE.

Around 8.8 million Afghans, 34 % of them women, will vote on Saturday to elect 250 lawmakers to the country’s lower house of Parliament.

The Afghan government has deployed 54,000 troops to protect voters and polling stations on election day, as violence had marred the run-up to the elections.

The Taliban had vowed to oppose the elections and warned Afghans to stay away from casting their votes.