News ID: 256937
Published: 0314 GMT August 06, 2019

Taliban threaten Afghan presidential elections

Taliban threaten Afghan presidential elections
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP

The Taliban warned Afghans Tuesday to keep away from election rallies and ordered its members to "stand against" the planned September vote.

The Taliban and other terrorist groups conducted frequent attacks during previous elections, and this year's campaign season has already been rocked by deadly violence, AFP reported.

The presidential election is currently slated for September 28, but has got off to a lackluster start and some candidates are yet to launch their campaigns.

Many observers think the poll will be postponed again – it has already been pushed back twice this year – to create space for a peace deal to be finalized between the US and the Taliban.

In their message, the Taliban said members should "stand against this theatrical and sham of a process to their full capabilities" – a clear instruction to conduct attacks.

The Taliban said Afghan elections do not "hold any value", referring to the 2014 presidential poll that was mired in fraud allegations and saw the US broker a power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Last month, on the first day of the campaign season, suicide bombers and gunmen stormed the Kabul office of Amrullah Saleh, Ghani's running-mate, killing at least 20 people.

Privately, many Afghans say they have no intention of voting, given the security risks and the perception of fraud.

The US and the Taliban are currently meeting in Doha for an eighth round of talks aimed at striking a peace deal that would slash the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Both sides have cited "excellent progress."

"We are discussing the final remaining points," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP on Tuesday.

"With that, the peace agreement will be completed and then we will decide on the announcement of the date of the agreement."

The Washington Post reported Thursday that an initial deal to end the war would see the US force in Afghanistan reduced to as low as 8,000 from the current level of around 14,000.

In exchange, the Taliban would abide by a cease-fire, renounce Al-Qaeda, and talk to the Kabul administration.

The Taliban continue to stage major attacks against Afghan forces while they are engaged in a dialogue with the United States to negotiate an end to the 18-year-long war that a US-led coalition launched in 2001 under the guise of the war on terror. Some 18 years on, the Taliban have only boosted their campaign of violence across the country, targeting both civilians and security forces in bloody assaults.

The United Nations has said that civilian casualty rates across Afghanistan matched record levels last month, following a dip earlier in the year.

 

   
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