Karzai urges Afghans to vote amid fears of Taliban violence
President Hamid Karzai Friday urged Afghans to vote in the parliamentary elections scheduled for this weekend, while a candidate was among 19 people kidnapped by suspected Taliban, reported dpa.
Karzai, who was speaking to reporters in his presidential palace, said that it was "important that the Afghan people come out and vote and have trust in their votes."
The president, however, said that he expected irregularities during Saturday's polls. "In Afghanistan, under the circumstances we must expect that there will be irregularities, there will be problems and there will be allegations as well," he said.
"But we should try to do our best under the circumstances and make the elections a success as things are today," Karzai said.
Karzai himself was re-elected in last year's presidential elections, which were marred by massive fraud, mostly in his favor.
More than 2500 candidates are vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga. Around 400 women are also competing in the second post-Taliban elections.
Taliban have threatened voters with violence and vowed to derail the elections by bombings.
Four NATO-led soldiers were killed in the pre-election Taliban attacks in southern Afghanistan, the military said on Friday. Two of the soldiers were killed on Friday and another two lost their lives on Thursday.
Munir Mangal, the deputy interior minister told reporters Friday that suspected militants kidnapped a male candidate for the election in the south-eastern province of Laghman on Thursday. He said all efforts were underway to release the hostage.
Election officials said that eight elections workers and ten campaigners had been abducted by suspected Taliban fighters in western province of Badghis.
Security will be the biggest challenge for more than 110,000 Afghan forces as they try to provide security for nearly 6,000 polling stations across the country. Around 150,000 NATO-led forces will also be standing by to assist the Afghan soldiers, but they are not responsible for the security of the sites.