Death of election official raises concern over poll

A drive-by shooting in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz has killed a senior election official, sparking worries over the upcoming presidential elections and the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr.

Just two days after the registration of candidates for the presidential election opened, two unidentified gunmen riding a motorbike shot the head of the country’s Independent Election Commission. The next presidential election is due to take place in April, 2014, and many believe it has the potential to mark a major turning point in the country’s future.

Amanullah Aman was one of many people working in the country’s election commission – spread throughout the country’s provinces – making sure the election is carried out in a fair and democratic way.

According to information provided by local police, he died on Wednesday, September 18, of his injuries.

“Aman was on his way to town around 9 o’clock in the morning when he was attacked by two men on a motorcycle,” chief of police in Kunduz Ebadullah Talwar told DW.

“He was injured and died as a result in hospital. We had offered Aman three bodyguards but at the time, they were unarmed.”

The police chief said the negligence of Aman’s security was to blame. He said Aman’s death was shocking and that it meant a great loss for Kunduz.

The province’s governor Muhammad Anwar Jigdalek told DW he was greatly dismayed over the death of Aman and accused the Taliban of carrying out the attack, who he says do not want to see free elections in the country.

Shortly after the attack, the Taliban claimed responsibility. And last month, Taliban leader Mullah Omar publically spoke out against the elections.

German withdrawal

Jigdalek said the attack was not a political one – that Aman was no politician, but instead an organizer of free elections at the behest of the Afghan people. He added that the province security forces did not have the proper technical equipment to thwart such attacks.

“We are doing our best, but that is not enough,” he said. “The general security situation is ok but we are hardly able to deal with terrorism or suicide attacks. Our own security forces have nonetheless said they would take up this case and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

According to information provided by a local DW correspondent, the Taliban were already active in three of the province’s districts: Imam Saheb and Dashte Archi in the north and Char Darah in the west. He said at least 300 Taliban fighters were operating there already. In the past two weeks, there had already been fights between the militants and government forces.

The most recent attack took place in Kunduz city, where the German army or Bundeswehr is stationed.

In just a few weeks, the Bundeswehr will withdraw from the province and hand over the task of providing security in the region to the Afghan army and police.

The governor is worried that the situation might deteriorate. “Our foreign partners – the Germans – have not provided us any technical means in the areas of intelligence. That is a big problem for us. They are moving to Mazar-e Sharif, despite the fact that we need them here.”

Potential impact on elections

Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesperson of the head of the Independent Election Commission in Kabul, emphasized that without security, the election would not be able to be carried out properly.

“We are working hard to conduct the election in a good environment,” Noor told DW: “We had a clear message to President Hamid Karzai to address Afghan security situation during the election.

But there are doubts among Afghans that the government is capable of providing adequate protection to its people.
One Kunduz resident, who goes by the name of Sakhidad, said: “People are unhappy with the worsening security situation. No one can lead a quiet life here.” The teacher, in his mid-20s, said he was sceptical the elections would take place properly. He demands the government bring the security situation under control as soon as possible.

Poor security is likely to be an obstacle for ordinary Afghans to go to the polls; there are still not enough female officers who will be able to carry out security checks for women at the polling sites. Furthermore, the lack of proper infrastrure could make it difficult for a number of Afghans to reach the polling stations.

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