Final preparations are underway in Afghanistan ahead of Thursday’s presidential election.
Despite the volatile security situation, 6,500 polling stations are planned to be open, that is 300 more than in the last presidential poll in 2005. Latest surveys put incumbent President Hamid Karzai ahead with about 45 percent of the vote. This means he would fall short of the support he needs to avoid a run-off against other leading contenders. One of Afghanistan’s most notorious militia leaders, General Dostum, has thrown his support behind Karzai and could tip the balance in favour of his re-election. The second-placed candidate, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, has been holding the last of his rallies and is the man Karzai could face in a run-off, possibly in October. Abdullah promises a fight against corruption Meanwhile, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful warlords has been warning there will be no end to the war as long as foreign forces remain in the country. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said the Kabul regime was corrupt from top to bottom. “We will never take part in a puppet government which is controlled by foreign forces. The Kabul government is made of thieves, corrupt people and criminals,” he said. The Taliban are warning Afghans to stay away from polling stations. They have threatened that if they catch anyone with ink on their fingers showing they have voted, they will cut their fingers off.