Taliban Post Letters to Warn of Voting Reprisal
The election in Afghanistan is scheduled to take place on Thursday. What seemed to be a sure win for President Karzai, now looks more and more like a two horse race that will result in a run off election. Recent polls indicate that President Karzai will not achieve 50%.
Recently shabnabas or night letters have been posted by the Taliban warning of reprisals for those that vote. The Taliban have proven with their car bomb, near the ISAF Headquarters, on Saturday that they can place car bombs or IEDs almost anywhere.
In view of the reprisal warning, with letters posted at mosques and outside homes, the voter turnout will be a particular concern.
Statements such as “I don’t want to die when my one vote will not benefit me or my country” can be heard around the countryside.
This election is aiming at bringing out the woman vote as well. There is an effort to get as many as 5 Million women out to vote.
The Taliban have warned that if people do not want to fall prey to their operations to stay home.
The letters, however, could backfire. By limiting the number of people that vote, it is possible that it will favour President Karzai.
“It actually will restrain people form going to vote on election day, but the leaflets really harass the people”, said a shopkeeper. We cannot bear the situation any longer. The current leadership is totally useless, he said. Change must come. It is time to chose the person that can release us from this calamity. For this reason I will vote and take the risk.
Lively political discussions are taking place all over Afghanistan. 17 Million Afghans are eligible to vote. As many as 10% of polling stations could be closed a result of the threatened violence. There was an expectation that there would be 7000 polling stations, the Independent Election Committee says there could be as few as 6200.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Saturday's car bomb.
The NATO-led force in Afghanistan will halt all offensive operations on Thursday to focus its efforts on maintaining security for the presidential election. Read Offenses Halted in Afghan Election.
KABUL - The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb in front of the heavily fortified headquarters of U.S. and NATO troops in Kabul on Saturday, saying the target was the U.S. embassy nearby.
"The target was the U.S. embassy, but we could not reach it. The suicide car bomber exploded near the ISAF headquarters and killed several foreign troops," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location, referring to the International Security Assistance Force.
Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Yousuf Azimy said three people were killed and 14 wounded, all civilians.
More than 10 per cent of planned voting stations could be closed in Afghanistan during landmark elections because of safety fears, officials said Thursday, as escalating violence killed 14 civilians.
As the Aug. 20 polling day looms, fears of violence and suicide attacks are growing after the Taliban threatened to stop the electorate of 17 million from voting in the country's second presidential vote.
Election officials said security fears could mean hundreds of polling stations across the country do not open, cutting the planned number of voting destinations by up to 12 per cent.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the total number of stations could be as low as 6,200, down from earlier expectations of close to 7,000.