Afghans risk their lives to vote in Kandahar

Afghans risked their lives to vote in legislative elections in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, after the Taliban-claimed killing of a powerful police chief delayed the ballot by a week. Turbaned men and burqa-clad women stood in long, segregated queues outside polling centres in the deeply conservative Kandahar’s provincial capital, which was blanketed with heavy security in anticipation of militant attacks. More than half a million people — the vast majority of them men — were registered to vote in Kandahar province where more than 100 candidates were competing for 11 lower-house seats. Last week, problems with untested biometric verification devices, missing or incomplete voter rolls and absent election workers following Taliban threats forced Afghans to wait hours outside polling stations, many of which opened late. Similar issues were evident in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and a province notorious for ballot stuffing, with many polling sites opening more than an hour late — despite assurances from Independent Election Commission (IEC) deputy spokeswoman Kobra Rezaei on Friday that “we are absolutely ready”.

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