Chaotic, vi­o­lent elec­tions draw to close

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - News - BY RAHIM FAIEZ, AMIR SHAH AND KATHY GANNON As­so­ci­ated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan’s first par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in eight years suf­fered from vi­o­lence and chaos Satur­day, with a mul­ti­tude of at­tacks killing at least 3 peo­ple, key elec­tion work­ers fail­ing to show up and many polling sta­tions stay­ing open hours later than sched­uled to han­dle long lines of vot­ers.

Prob­lems sur­round­ing the elec­tions – al­ready three years over­due – threaten to com­pro­mise the cred­i­bil­ity of polls which an in­de­pen­dent mon­i­tor­ing group said were also marred by in­ci­dences of bal­lot stuff­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion by armed men af­fil­i­ated with can­di­dates in 19 of the coun- try’s 32 prov­inces. Some ar­eas have yet to vote, in­clud­ing Kan­da­har, where the pro­vin­cial po­lice chief was gunned down Thurs­day.

Stakes were high in these elec­tions for Afghans who hoped to re­form Par­lia­ment, chal­leng­ing the dom­i­nance of war­lords and the po­lit­i­cally cor­rupt and re­plac­ing them with a younger, more ed­u­cated gen­er­a­tion of politi­cians. They were also high for the U.S., which is still seek­ing an exit strat­egy after 17 years of a war there that has cost more than $900 bil­lion and claimed more than 2,400 U.S. ser­vice per­son­nel.

Many polling sta­tions opened as much as five hours be­hind sched­ule.

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