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Afghan Official Worried By Security Ahead Of Parliamentary Elections

Fazal Ahmad Manawi (file photo)
Fazal Ahmad Manawi (file photo)
KABUL -- Afghan electoral officials are expressing concern over security preparations ahead of next month's parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

More than 2,000 candidates -- including some 400 women -- are running for 240 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, in the September 18 elections.

Fazal Ahmad Manawi, the head of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, has been touring Afghanistan to assess preparations for the elections.

He told RFE/RL on August 12 that he noticed a lack of dependable transport for voters and ballot boxes, but is most concerned by security shortcomings.

There will be at least 6,000 polling stations open during the elections.

"We have received assurances, but serious steps need to be taken. It is not enough, we have only 37 days left," Manawi said.

He said that security officials "have to take steps together to secure areas that are less safe or at least to stop the recent spread of insecurity."

Manawi's call was heard by Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi, who told RFE/RL that many parts of the country were ready for elections. But he said others were being observed and might be in need of additional security by the military.

Several other Afghan officials have warned recently that the election process will suffer greatly in the event of poor security at polling stations.