Afghanistan’s presidential poll looks likely to be disputed

Oct 03, 2019

AFGHAN ELECTIONS are never quick and never easy. The presidential poll that took place on September 28th will be no exception. Voters were choosing a leader for the fourth time since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001. Full results are not expected until November 7th. A run-off may then follow. Disputes are already rife.

The contest is a repeat of the previous election, in 2014. The incumbent, Ashraf Ghani, is favourite; his closest rival is likely to be the man he defeated last time, Abdullah Abdullah. Campaigning was wan. Until America abruptly called off talks with the insurgents of the Taliban in early September, polling had widely been expected to be postponed, since it would have distracted from the negotiations.

Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and atrocious roads would make even a peaceful election tricky. But the country is also racked by the 18-year-old war between the Taliban and the government, which is backed by America. American officials estimated last year that the Afghan government controlled barely half the country. The number of polling stations had to be cut by more than a quarter, partly because of insecurity.

The Taliban had vowed to stop the vote. Widespread violence was expected on polling day. In the end, casualties were lower than feared, though at least five people were killed and 80...

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