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By Mario Orru and Christine Quirk, DI Observer Coordination Team


Our long-term observers continue to report their impressions of the pre-election environment; you can read a summary of previous dispatches here.

Security: While the security environment is affecting most aspects of the election, the threats are varied and nuanced. In some provinces, such as Nangarhar, there are reports of anti-government elements planning to disrupt the voting process.  In other provinces, warlords or other local power brokers are reportedly using the threat of violence or intimidation as a campaign tactic so as to scare voters or other candidates. Prominent candidates in Balkh province claim that “external” actors (not limited to the Taliban) were generating instability in their communities with the intent of disrupting the election process and disenfranchising certain groups of voters.

Election Campaign: Many candidates held Ramadan themed campaign activities including iftar (fast-breaking) meals. Candidates were also actively campaigning throughout the the Eid holiday and during the last week before the campaign period ends, on September 16.

A common issue in many provinces is the lack of a political platform offered by candidates; interviews in some provinces suggest candidates are evaluated by voters based on their accountability to their areas of support rather than the fulfillment of a political or ideological platform. Candidates in Nangarhar complained that the slow registration process for political parties has inhibited the growth of parties.

While women are among the most prominent candidates in some provinces, most women face serious obstacles in campaigning. For example, they cannot travel in convoys with male body guards and may not be able to travel to all areas of a province. According to a candidate in Balkh, few women receive support from male relatives – financial or otherwise – putting them at a financial disadvantage. It is also difficult to transport women voters to urban areas to register to vote or participate in campaign events.

Election Preparations: Complaints from candidates and other interlocutors about the capacity, competence and integrity of the provincial Independent Election Commissions (PIEC) and Electoral Complaints Commissions (PECC) continue. In some locations, awareness among voters of the role of the PECC and the confidence of candidates in the institutions is low.

Voter cards continue to pose problems. DI LTOs in Panjshir have heard reports of inconsistencies in the distribution of voter cards. In one village, many eligible voters were without cards, but in another, more inaccessible village, most villagers did have cards and intended to vote. Rumors about fake cards from Pakistan and ink-removal chemicals from China persist.

Media: Although reporters’ work is increasingly dangerous due to the security situation, as they are susceptible to intimidation, kidnapping and killings, popular expectations of uncensored media and active coverage of the campaign seem high. The use of online and social media is robust and proliferating in some provinces. 


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