A ban on dozens of Afghan strongmen and lawmakers from running for parliament because of suspected links to illegal armed groups has spurred threats to disrupt a general election already at risk from worsening security. The October polls, seen as an important test of Afghanistan’s democratic legitimacy and a dry run for a presidential election next year, have been repeatedly delayed because of organizational problems. “There will be riots, protests and road-blockages if they don’t accept me,” said Assadullah Sharifi, a lawmaker who is among 35 people the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has barred from standing.
“I will do whatever it takes to contest elections,” said Sharifi, who is close to the powerful former governor of the northern province of Balkh, Atta Mohammad Noor.
Afghanistan has for generations been plagued by the problem of powerful provincial figures defying central authority, taxing whatever business they can and maintaining private forces.
The United Nations, which is overseeing the election, has welcomed the decision to vet candidates in preparation for the Oct. 20 election.