Afghanistan presidential election: All the latest updates

Complaints over irregularities and sporadic violence amid reports of low turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election.

Men arrive to cast their votes outside a polling station in the presidential election in Jalalabad, Afghanistan September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Parwiz
Afghans arrive to cast their votes outside a polling station in the presidential election in Jalalabad [Parwiz/Reuters]

Polls have closed in Afghanistan‘s presidential election, the fourth since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani is seen as the frontrunner in the 14-man race, with Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, considered his main rival.

Security forces are on high alert due to threats from the Taliban to attack polling stations.

Here are all the latest updates:

Polls close 

Polls closed in Afghanistan’s presidential election amid widespread complaints of irregularities and violence in parts of the country.

Voters complained that lists were incomplete or missing and biometric identification machines intended to reduce fraud were not working properly or people were not adequately trained on how to use them.

“I couldn’t vote because the voting sticker I have on my ID is not registered in the polling station I went to. This happened to so many different people. This sticker was put on my ID in Abdul Shukoor Reshad High School by the election commission themselves.”

Preliminary results are not expected before October 17 and final results not until November 7. If no candidate gets 51 percent of the vote, a second round will be held between the two leading candidates

First time voter: ‘I want to see a peaceful Afghanistan’

Najmia Popal, 18, a first-time voter [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]
Najmia Popal, 18, a first-time voter wants a peaceful Afghanistan [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera] 

Najmia Popal, 18, headed to a polling centre in Kabul with her mother to cast a ballot for the first time.

“It was my first time and I was excited,” she told Al Jazeera.

“I voted because I want to see a peaceful Afghanistan, a place with no more terrorist attacks, no more bomb-blasts.

“I want to live in a secure country, something new and great, I hope that it happens. Long live Afghanistan!”

Low turnout reported in parts of Afghanistan 

Voter turnout was low in certain parts of Afghanistan amid lingering concerns over security threats and logistical challenges.

“In the city of Jalalabad [the capital of Nangarhar provincial], the turnout was low in the morning, until at least 10am. In the districts there are also fewer people than in previous elections,” Nabiullah Baz, a member of parliament from the district of Chapliyar, told Al Jazeera.

“As the hours passed, I started to see more mobilisation among the people – hopefully, as the day goes on, more people will come out especially, as the heat starts to settle.”

Obaid Ali, a Kabul-based analyst at Afghanistan Analysts Network, who visited several different voting sites in Takhar, said voting was relatively low in the northern province.

“In all of the polling centres I went to, the turnout has been extremely low. Even when compared to the parliamentary elections in [October] 2018”.

Low turnout was also reported in Herat province.

Afghanistan elections [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]
Low voter turnout was reported across the country [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

Voters across Afghanistan cast their ballots

Afghans voted in presidential elections amid tight security.

Check out our photo gallery

Election extended by two hours

The Independent Election Commission extended voting by two hours, with polls now set to close at 5pm (12:30 GMT).

“There was always a contingency for the polling stations to be open to facilitate the last-minute surge of people coming in to vote,” Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reported from Kabul.

“They were due to be closed by now but they happen to be open for further two hours – it does seem as though it is giving people in other parts of Afghanistan a chance to vote if they have not already voted.”

No contact with hundreds of polling centres

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said it had lost contact with 901 of the country’s 5,373 polling centres.

Habib-Ur-Rahman Nang, head of the IEC secretariat, said the commission was not able to communicate with polling centres in the provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan, where telecom services were not active, local media TOLO News reported.

In addition, 464 polling centers in 17 provinces were closed, including 33 centres which lacked election materials, election commissioner Mawlana Mohammad Abdullah said.

‘Trying to take my vote’

Afghanistan Elections
Shahla was not able to cast her ballot as IEC workers refused to help her cast a vote [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

A voter named Shahla said electoral workers at Naderia High School in Kabul’s Kartei Parwan neighbourhood refused her permission to cast her ballot because the system showed she had already voted.

“I’ve voted here before with the same ID. If I had already voted once today, why isn’t my finger marked with ink?”

“I’m not illiterate, why would I do such a thing? They are trying to take my vote with a ridiculous, baseless claim,” Shahla told Al Jazeera, expressing her anger and disappointment.

‘In and out very quickly’

Mustafa Azizi said he did not face any problems voting at a school at Chelsetoon, in west Kabul.

Afghanistan Election [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]
Mustafa Azizi, 27, voted at a school in Kabul’s Chelsetoon area [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

“Everything was orderly, I was in and out very quickly,” he said.

“I didn’t see anyone complaining but I’ve heard reports of issues at [Kabul’s] Habibia [area].”

Problems reported with biometric devices

Dozens of people were turned away or had to wait for hours to vote at Kandahar’s Sayeed Jamaluddin High School due to problems with two biometric devices, according to reports.

Some 600 people were registered at this centre.

Similar issues were reported in Kunar province.

Afghan president hails landmark polls 

Ghani cast his ballot in Kabul, hailing the election as a sign of strengthening democracy in Afghanistan.

“It is a moment of pride for me that a major part of the election expenses have been paid by the Afghan government,” he said.

Ghani also stressed the need for fairness and urged election observers to monitor the process.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, casts his vote at Amani high school, near the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Afghans headed to the polls on Saturday to elec
Ghani, right, casts his vote at Amani high school, near the presidential palace in Kabul [AP/Rahmat Gul]

Voting delays, heavy security

Independent Election Commission staff showed up late at a polling station in Kabul’s Herati Masjed, delaying the voting process by almost an hour.

Afghanistan Elections
Shah Bolbol’s name did not appear in the electoral roll and was turned back [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

At least four people were turned away after voting started amid problems with voters’ names appearing in the electoral roll.

“The IEC is hiring incapable, illiterate people, this is why it’s happening,” Shah Bolbol, who waited for three hours to vote, told Al Jazeera.

He was asked to go to the IEC offices as his name did not appear on the voter list.

However, others were able to vote without any problems.

The services were good, the security was good. I was very happy to go and vote. No one was afraid,” Mohammed Wahid, a Kabul resident, told Al Jazeera.

Low turnout reported in Kabul

Reporting from a polling station in Kabul at 10am local time, Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley said the turnout appeared to be low compared with the 2014 presidential polls.

“Five years ago, when presidential elections were held there were lines of people here and now I have barely seen 200 people who have voted here in the last two hours,” he said.

“It’s either because of the security situation or because people here become very disillusioned with the political situation. Five years ago, they were promised big changes, such as the economy and security will be improved, but none of that happened. So people here think if they vote it’s going to be more of the same.”

Birtley said there were reports of explosions in Kandahar and in the north of Kabul, while a mortar was reportedly fired in Helmand province.

Blast at Kandahar polling station wounds 15

At least 17 people were wounded when a bomb exploded outside a polling station in the southern city of Kandahar, a hospital official said, hours after the polls opened.

Naimatullah, the head of a regional hospital who only has one name, told AFP news agency that “15 people – all men – were injured and were brought to the hospital”.

Voting under way across Afghanistan

Polls opened across Afghanistan in the country’s fourth presidential election since the Taliban was removed from power in 2001 in a US-led invasion.

Voting stations are scheduled to close at 5pm (12:30 GMT). 

Read more here.

Security tops voters’ concerns

In the lead-up to the vote, the precarious security situation and the struggling economy seemed to be dominating voters’ concerns.

“In Afghanistan, from the moment you wake up to when you put your head down to sleep, you are in danger,” Kabul resident Farooq Saidzada said.

Read more here.

All you need to know about the polls

Who are the candidates? What are the main issues? What is being done to ensure security?

Go here to find out the answers to these questions – and much more.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies