Vans plastered with candidates' posters and blaring appeals for support crawled through the capital's crowded streets on Thursday.

A convoy of election commission vehicles joined the throng, blaring out their message on how to vote and stopping to hand out flyers and sample ballot papers.

"Because we only have three days to go we need to intensify activity around the city, to capture their attention," said civic education officer Augustus Davies.

Safe polling?

Afghans will vote on Sunday for a new national assembly for the first time since 1969, and for councils in all 34 provinces.

Security, especially in the south and east of the country where Taliban rebels are most active, has been the main worry but Afghan and US military officials say they are confident polling can be held safely. 

There is concern that the voting
system is too complex

Concern remains though about the complexity of the process, with voters, many of them illiterate, having to choose between numerous candidates on two ballot papers - one for the parliamentary vote and on for the provincial vote.

The parliamentary ballot paper in Kabul province has nearly 400 names, is seven pages long and the size of a tabloid newspaper.

Education campaign

The sample ballots Davies and his colleagues were handing out were exact copies of the real thing, but in black and white not colour, enabling voters to identify their choice, and hopefully speed things up on voting day.

"As much as we want everyone to vote, we don't want them to waste time in the polling stations," he said.

Kabul residents seemed a bit bemused by all the noise, but nevertheless thought the education campaign useful.

"Most of our people are not familiar with voting. They don't know how to vote, but if people read this stuff they can easily go to the polling station and vote," said 35-year-old Kabuli Safiullah Mukhlis after taking a leaflet.