By Emmanuel Yashim
Kabul, Sept. 26, 2019 (dpa/NAN) The Afghan Taliban on Thursday ordered its fighters to use all means at their disposal to disrupt a presidential election taking place in the country later this week.
The militant group said it would attack security forces at polling stations and block roads to disrupt voting.
It added that in order to remain safe, residents must refrain from voting and stay home.
The Taliban has dismissed the presidential election as a conspiracy to “implement the goals of occupiers” in the country.
The threat comes as millions of Afghans are called upon to cast their ballots on Saturday.
A total of 18 candidates including incumbent President Ashraf Ghani are contesting the election.
Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Rahmatullah Nabil, a former head of the Afghan spy agency NDS, are currently leading the polls.
More than 72,000 Afghan security forces are expected to provide security during the election. Some 30,000 to 40,000 troops will be on standby to assist in the case of violence and militant attacks.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged all parties to play their part in creating the conditions for Afghan citizens to vote in a safe environment.
The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called on the Taliban to “desist from any activity that would interfere with the elections.”
According to UNAMA, the first day of parliamentary elections in October 2018 was the day with the highest number of civilian casualties in 2018.
Last week, 26 people were killed in a suicide bombing at an election event in the city of Charikar, the capital of central Parwan province.
Ghani’s lead campaigner Ajmal Ghani has expressed confidence that the Afghan president will win majority of the votes in the first round, rendering a second round unnecessary.
According to Afghan electoral law, a candidate must garner 50 per cent plus one vote in order to win.
A number of candidates have already alleged that election fraud is taking place, and warned that their supporters will take to the streets of the election commission fails to curb voter irregularities.
The country’s presidential election is being held only a month after talks between the U.S. and the Taliban were called off by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Since July 2018, the U.S. and the Taliban have been negotiating a political resolution to a conflict that began shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.