BAMYAN (Pajhwok): The remoteness of voter registration centers, wide-spread rigging in the Wolesi Jirga elections and lack of trust over the Independent Election Commission (IEC) are to blame for lack of people’s interest in the upcoming presidential election in central Bamyan province.
Earlier, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced launching a 20-day voter registration process for the Sept 28 presidential election.
The IEC says around 50,000 people have so far registered as voters within 10 days of the ongoing drive ahead of the upcoming election.
Ismael Zaki, coordinator of civil society and human rights network in the central zone, said lack of access to registration centers, distrust on IEC’s commissioners and people’s engagement in agriculture were factors behind the sluggish voter registration process.
Calling people of Bamyan as agriculturalists, he said it would be difficult for them to abandon their work and life and go to registration centers and pay a huge fare.
Criticizing the IEC for not launching public awareness programs about voter registration, he said denying someone information was against the law and constitution.
Ali Shah Misbah, provincial IEC director for Bamyan, however, rejected these claims and said the voter registration process was going well.
Regarding lukewarm participation of people in the voter registration process, he hoped the turnout would increase.
According to him, around 120 polling stations have been approved by the IEC for presidential election.
“About 52 percent women and 48 percent men had participated in the Wolesi Jirga elections, which showed 80 percent turnout in Bamyan,” he added.
Without giving information about the number of people registered as voters, he said the central office had set up some restrictions regarding the number of voters.
Pajhwok reporter visited some voter registration centers and found that less than 10 individuals visited these centers for registration on a daily basis. He said he spent more than one hour in a center but saw no one arriving for registration.
Meanwhile, Ali Mohammad, a resident of Panjab district, told Pajhwok that due to a fewer number of voter registration centers, rural people could not go to certain centers for registration.
In the Wolesi Jirga vote, he said facilities had been made by candidates in registration process but no such measures had been taken for the presidential elections.
Marzia Rafiee, a civil society activist, said residents could not go outside their villages and homes because it was summer and they were busy in agricultural activities.
But people would surely register as voters if mobile teams went to rural areas, she added.

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