Kabul – The Taliban has warned Afghans not to participate in next month’s presidential polls and to stay away from voting booths, saying it will use “all force” to disrupt the vote.
Monday’s statement, the group’s harshest on the elections so far, came 26 days ahead of the nation’s third presidential and provincial council polls.
We once again call on all of our countrymen to keep away from electoral offices, voting booths, rallies and campaigns so that may Allah forbid, their lives are not put into danger.
The group had released previous statements warning the Afghan people not to participate in the April 5 ballot, but Monday’s appeared to be the most strongly-worded yet.
The Taliban vowed to “use all force at its disposal to disrupt these upcoming sham elections; target all its workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices and the nation.
“It is the religious obligation of every Afghan to fulfil their duty by foiling the latest plot of the invaders that is guised in the garb of elections,” the nation’s largest armed opposition movement said in the statement, which was posted online.
The statement went on to urge religious scholars, educators, and “famous personalities” to “inform the entire nation … make it known to each and every person of this society that their casting ballots and participation is considered assistance of the Kuffar [infidels] and their stooges against Islam”.
It urged “the nation” to hinder any process that would allow schools, mosques, clinics and other public places to be used as registration and polling centres.
“We once again call on all of our countrymen to keep away from electoral offices, voting booths, rallies and campaigns so that may Allah forbid, their lives are not put into danger. If anyone still persists on participating then they are solely responsible of any loss in the future.”
In the capital alone, three high schools have already been delegated as registration centres.
Since campaigning began on February 2, teams working for the front-runners, Doctor Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, have both been attacked. The Taliban took credit for at least two attacks on Abdullah’s team in Herat and Sar-e Pol provinces.
Speaking to Al Jazeera last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres, said using medical facilities for polling and registration centres could further hinder access to healthcare.
The Taliban also threatened to attack the 2009 polls, which were marked by accusations of corruption on all sides. That election saw 73 violent incidents across 15 of the country’s 34 provinces.
The Independent Election Commission reported 35 percent of registered voters turned out for the 2009 polls despite the threats.