Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 20, to elect 249 members of the National Assembly for a five-year term. The election will take place in a complex security environment where fatal attacks occur on a near-daily basis. 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, and has been postponed by a week in Kandahar province, after a deadly Taliban attack on high-profile Afghan military figures on October 18.
Most recently, a candidate was killed in a bomb explosion on October 16 in Lashkar Gah (Helmand province). The attack was subsequently claimed by the Taliban. This is the tenth candidate to be killed by the Taliban and further such attacks are expected.
Some 54,000 security personnel will be responsible for securing 5000 polling stations on election day. Traffic disruptions are to be anticipated around all election related events, protests, and polling stations.
The Taliban and Islamic State (IS) have vowed to disrupt the electoral process. On October 8, the Taliban released a statement contesting the legitimacy of the 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.
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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