Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20th at noon in Kabul

Photo: Kabul at 5.30 am with security blimp over calm city.

The streets of Kabul are empty today, because traffic is restricted. A few reports of security incidents already. Polling centers we visited were all functioning as expected, except that the punchers for the Voter Registration Cards (VRCs) were almost all not working. Some voting officials in Kabul are improvising and using scissors to cut off a part of the VRC. We noticed that the ink seemed weak at a couple of the polling stations and are getting reports of this also from others.

I am hearing that Presidential candidate Bashardost is filing a complaint about the ink being weak. He apparently washed the ink of his finger with basic detergent. Am hearing the same from people in Baghlan.

Baghlan Old city and districts around New City is under Taliban control. Police chief killed this morning. Voting not possible.

Other Provinces in North East, with the exception of Kunduz, voting is generally going well with good voter turnout.

Helmand: security preventing voters from coming to the polling centers.

Kandahar: very lethargic turnout, presumably out of fear.
According to the latest information from out campaign office in Ghazni province, insecurity prevents election as well as observation of the process in certain areas.

According one source of information, a total number of 834 polling stations in 14 districts are inaccessible due to worst security in Ghazni process, which is specified as following:
Deh Yak district - 57 polling stations
Zana Khan district - 25 polling stations
Khwaja Omari district - 5 polling stations
Rashidan district - 19 polling stations
Khogyani district - 17 polling stations
Waghaz district - 44 polling stations
Qara Bagh district - 184 polling stations
Ajerestan district - 74 polling stations
Moqur district - 80 polling stations
Aab Band district - 42 polling stations
Gillan district - 51 polling stations
Nawa district - the entire district is unsafe

According to a source from one of the presidential candidate’s staff, “the IEC staff influenced by the local authorities are planning to station the entire boxes in the center of the districts and stuff it in favor of the incumbent. “

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