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More than 70,000 troops to be deployed for Afghan presidential vote.

Afghanistan plans to deploy more than 70,000 troops to ensure that next month's presidential election goes safely and smoothly.

KABUL: Afghanistan plans to deploy more than 70,000 troops to ensure that next month's presidential election goes safely and smoothly, a government spokesman said on Monday.

Taliban fighters have threatened to disrupt the vote, despite signs that a peace deal between the armed group and the US is imminent, and thousands of polling centers will remain shut because of security threats.

Almost all votes held since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001 have been bloody and rigged.

"We have been working on a comprehensive plan to provide security for the elections' process, ahead of the vote, on voting day and after the elections are held," Nasrat Rahimi, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told Arab News. "Based on the plan, some 72,000 security forces will be tasked to provide security for this vital and national process."

He said the government may ask US-led troops for assistance if necessary.

The poll has been twice delayed because of mismanagement and divisions among government leaders who, under a US-brokered deal, assumed power following disputed elections in 2014.

Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, an Independent Election Commission spokesman, said security was the second biggest challenge after fraud.

FASTFACTS

* Afghan presidential poll are due on Sept. 28.

* Taliban say election is a farce.

* The government may ask US-led troops for assistance if necessary.

There has been voter fatigue, as well as a lack of enthusiasm from some of the 16 candidates looking to snatch the presidency away from the incumbent Ashraf Ghani. There is also speculation the vote may be delayed again so that the Taliban can take part in it.

There have been nine rounds of peace talks in Qatar since last year and US President Donald Trump's administration is keen that a deal is signed before Sept. 1.

But the Taliban say the election is a farcical process and is being used by some people to continue ruling for their personal gain. The group has threatened to hit candidates' rallies and the electoral process.

Ghani's government has been excluded from the Qatar talks because of objections from the Taliban, which views his administration as a puppet of the West.

His national security adviser, Hamdullah Moheb, was reported as saying that "there was no hope of signing of the peace deal ahead of the polls."

The government insists that elections will have to be held, and that the future administration can hold talks with the Taliban from a position of "strength."

Some candidates have accused Ghani of using state resources for his own ends, while others say that peace should be the priority. One of Ghani's main challengers, Haneef Atmar, suspended campaigning because he said he wanted peace over polls.

Dr. Shaida Abdali, another of Ghani's rivals, said the peace issue process had confounded candidates.

"Indeed, there are a number of challenges in terms of the political, economic and security situation. Most critical of all, the evolving ambiguity in terms of the peace effort and elections have put the Afghan people under a lot of stress," he told Arab News. "There is no clear synergy between these two processes -- rather each is viewed as opposite to the other -- and (they) have divided the Afghan government and nongovernment leaders."

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Aug 27, 2019
Words:569
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