Commanders forcibly collecting voter cards

CHAGHCHARAN (Pajhwok): Local commanders and their gunmen are forcibly collecting voter cards from residents of western Ghor province, residents said on Monday.
However, local officials promised stern action would be taken against those snatching cards from people or forcing them to vote against their choice.
Residents claimed Mullah Mustafa in Shahrak and Mullah Fazal Ahad in Dolina districts had warned them not vote against their choice.
Over 6,500 illegal gunmen and 3,500 Taliban are active in various parts of Ghor, challenging security and rule of law, according to local officials.
Muhammad Naeem, a resident of the Kaminj locality of Shahrak district, said Mullah Mustafa had been forcing people to vote for a candidate of his choice.
Having 200 gunmen under his command, he warned to punish those who did not obey his orders. The gunmen have so far collected 500 voter cards and those resisting were beaten, Naeem added.  
Najmuddin, another resident of Dolina district, complained that Fazal Ahad, the uncle of Noor Ahmad Karimi, a provincial council member, supported a particular presidential runner.
He claimed Ahad’s gunmen collected 70 voter cards from the people in their village, especially women and did not allow people to exercise their right to vote.
Earlier, Ahad was accused of supporting Taliban and he was the person who lashed two women and three boys in Dolina district that fueled serious concerns among human rights and civil society organizations.
Sher Ahmad, a resident of Daulatyar district, said some parts of the town were under local commander Atta Muhammad’s control of local commander who was building pressure on poor people to vote in favour of a candidate of his choice.
Salman Sharifi, deputy head of the provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC), said the areas where people could not vote as per their choice would be declared as invalid votes.
Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he acknowledged rebels were using all tactics to disrupt poll process but reports regarding collection of voter cards by gunmen were mere rumours.
But Governor Sayyed Anwar Rahmati, confirmed he had reports of forcible collecting of voters cards by gunmen in some parts of the province.
“Security forces will deal with those who are trying to interfere in the ballot affairs or threatening voters,” he assured.

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