Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 20, to elect 250 members of the National Assembly for a five-year term. The vote is expected to face widespread fraud allegations and will not be able to be held in every part of the country; polling has already been called off in Ghazni province, whose capital has been overtaken by the Taliban. The election will take place in a complex security environment where fatal attacks occur on a near-daily basis.
The Taliban and Islamic State (IS) have vowed to disrupt the electoral process by carrying out attacks. On October 8, the Taliban released a statement contesting the legitimacy of the upcoming elections and denouncing the continued presence of "foreign occupiers." They called on their supporters to boycott the elections and to undermine the electoral process by perpetrating attacks against security infrastructure in the lead up to the elections. On the previous day, the Taliban carried out an attack against the chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul.
So far, five candidates have been killed by these groups and further such attacks are expected. Some 54,000 security personnel will be responsible for securing 5000 polling stations. Furthermore, demonstrations by the Jamiat-e-Islami party are expected to take place to protest the Independent Election Commission (IEC) should the IEC fail to implement a biometric system in time for the vote, which is unlikely to happen on a nationwide scale. Traffic disruptions are to be anticipated around all election related events, protests, and polling stations. There is still potential for these elections to be postponed.
At least 13 people were killed and over 25 injured in a suicide attack on a political campaign rally on October 2 in the Kama district of Nangarhar province. The attack, which was subsequently claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), was the first to take place during the electoral campaign, which began on September 28. The parliamentary elections were initially scheduled to be held over three years ago but have been repeatedly delayed due to ongoing security concerns. The presidential election is currently scheduled to take place on April 20, 2019.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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