More than 2,500 candidates are running from Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, with more than 600 in Kabul alone. However, poor security threatens the legitimacy of the vote in many areas. Authorities have closed about 1 in 8 polling centers because of security concerns, and it is likely that many more centers will remain out of operation in the south and east on polling day.
The Taliban vowed to disrupt the elections and have launched a campaign of intimidation in recent months, targeting election workers and campaigners. Some have been killed and others kidnapped and released, after pledging to quit their job.
The insurgents are likely to be behind the majority of preelection violence. But election watchdogs say that dozens of attacks that were originally attributed to the insurgents appear to actually be cases of intercandidate feuding.
In the central province of Ghor, rival candidates opened fire on one another in August, sparking an hours-long gun battle. A number of other incidents of violence in the province were initially reported as insurgent-related, but provincial officials now say that they suspect that candidates themselves might be involved.
In the northern province of Baghlan, gunmen recently fired on the campaign convoy of a candidate known simply as Narmgoy. Witnesses said that the culprit, which left the Narmgoy’s team unharmed, was the son of Shukria Isakhel, a rival candidate.
Ms. Isakhel admitted that her son was behind the incident but claimed that she did not order it. Her supporters say the attack was in reaction to Mr. Narmgoy’s campaign team’s distribution of cards with slanderous accusations against her, even suggesting sexual impropriety on her part.