The surge in the attacks by Taliban militants and air strikes by the U.S.-led NATO mission, have overshadowed the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan.
Over 9.68 million voters are expected to cast their ballots in the presidential elections on September 28 – the fourth democratic exercise, since the fall of Taliban in 2001.
The election campaign running over 60 days will witness 18 candidates competing and vying for the votes.
The candidates include the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, his power-sharing CEO Abdullah Abdullah, former Prime Minister Gulbiddin Hekmetyar, former Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and former Head of National Directorate of Security Rahmatullah Nabil.
Some candidates have expressed fears that Ghani will have an edge due to his presidential authority during the campaign period. Ghani has, however, dismissed such fears. He has assured to campaign within the laws, stipulated in the country’s constitution and the rules framed by the Election Commission.
The elections estimated to cost $149 million will be funded, jointly by the Kabul administration, international organizations and the U.S.
Out of the total 7,400 ballot boxes, ready to be deployed, 2012 are meant for the regions facing threat from Taliban militants, who are opposing the elections.
The election authorities are drawing an elaborate security plan to ensure a violence-free elections by deploying 50,000 troops to protect ballot boxes, the country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Half of 34 provinces in the country, including the capital Kabul have witnessed a surge in the attacks from Taliban. The Taliban, who are conducting peace talks with the U.S. in Qatar, have said that there will be no letup in their strikes.