Transparent Election foundation of Afghanistan as the most prominent domestic oversight body, commenced its observation from the 2019 poll opening phase in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan-in accordance with the international election standards, interventions and agreement-at 06:30am by deploying 5,200 trained and non-partisan observers across the country.
TEFA’s 68 call center agents in Kabul began their work at 06:30am by placing vigilant calls with TEFA’s observers in all 34 provinces for assembling real-time information on the poll-opening phase which are presented as follows:
According to TEFA’s initial observation findings, 98% of the polling centers were opened in their pre-defined sights in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan by IEC, security forces were present in 99.5% of the open polling centers across the country, 99.8% of IEC’s staff were entirely on-time at the polling centers, Candidates and political parties’ agents along with observer bodies were present in 93% of the polling centers, 96.8% of the polling stations were completely supplied with sensitive and insensitive material, and 98.9% of the polls are equipped with biometric devices.
TEFA’s field observers began their observation from the poll-opening phase exactly at 06:30am in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan; however, in only 2% of the polling centers in provinces such as Faryab, Herat and Ghor, observers were not allowed to enter the polls at the beginning of the poll-opening.
62% of the polling centers opened exactly at 07:00am commencing the voting phase, while the remaining 38% of these centers were haplessly struck by delays and could not be opened on-time; among this 38%, 25% of the polling centers were opened around 07:30-08:00am and rest of the polls opened their doors between 08:00-09:00am pre-dominantly on account of absence of IEC’s staff, security threats, lack of sensitive and insensitive material.
So far the biggest challenge in the process happens to be absence of a certain number of voters’ name within the biometric-voter list, and reports depict that 88% of the polling stations across the country are faced with this problem, keeping voters in the dark with inability to cast their ballots. Moreover, in provinces like Nooristan, Kamdesh district, a certain number of alphabet in the voter-list do not exist at all, and reports depict a serious discrepancy between the number of voters registered and the number of people who are present at the polls to vote, e.g. In Ghazni province, at Shahrak-e-Mohajerin clinic, 380 voters are officially registered with the center; however, 2,500 individuals have come, waiting outside the poll to cast vote claiming that they all had previously been registered with this particular center.
People’s turnout have reportedly been very poor with a great portion of it attributing to female voters in provinces such as Khost, Paktia, Jawzjaan, Ghazni, Nimroz, Paktika, Badakhshan, Kabul, Takhar, Farah, Kandahar, and Sar-e-pool.
A certain number of female voters did not permit IEC-biometric unit to capture their photos in some villages, for instance Dara-e-Zandan in Samangan province.
Despite all the positive reports about the security conditions of the polls, there have some security issues in provinces like Paktia near Baba Saadeq High School where people retreated and turned totally scattered due to gun fires. Similarly in Paktika, the polling atmosphere turned violent due to heavy gun-fires near Separi High School. Also, in Ghorbandan district of Parwan province polls have been shut down on account of war. Baghlan has also been victimized by heavy gun fires targeting IEC’s provincial office. Armed conflicts ignited between supporters of 2 presidential candidates. One of the polling centers in central Parwan was blown with a magnetic IED-fortunately-leaving no casualties behind. In Kabul, in district 8, at 10:00am, a bomb blast occurred inside Zabiullah Ismati High School.
Telecommunication companies are entirely out of order in 12 provinces of Afghanistan, hindering the possibilities of coordination among IEC’s central, provincial and district offices.
3 of TEFA’s observers were held hostages by the Taliban, and were fortunately released after an hour.