Kabul: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ahead of the much anticipated presidential election slated to take place in the war-town country on Saturday amid Taliban threats to boycott the poll process.
Ghani in a tweet on Thursday night said: “Pleased to have received a phone call from Secretary Pompeo. We discussed the elections. And ensured security for a big turnout. I expressed our gratitude for the US’ assistance and reiterated our partnership for a stable Afghanistan,” TOLO News reported
The US State Department also issued a statement of the call that said: “Secretary Pompeo spoke with Afghanistan’s President Ghani today to underscore the US’ expectation that the conduct of candidates and government institutions holding the Afghanistan election should be beyond reproach to ensure the legitimacy of the outcome.”
Saturday’s presidential election will be the fourth in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US troops invaded the country to oust the Taliban regime.
Taliban militants who have vowed to derail the election, termed the voting process as a “ploy of foreign invaders to continue their occupation of Afghanistan”, calling upon people to boycott it.
A total of 18 contenders are in the fray, including Ghani who is contesting for a second term in office and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
More than 9 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots.
The Afghan government has decided to deploy 72,000 soldiers across the country to maintain law and order during the voting.
An additional 30,000 troops will also be on standby to respond to any imminent Taliban attack.
due to the Taliban threats, the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) will hold election only in 4,942 out of the total 7,385 polling centres.
Of these, 675 voting centres have been designated highly sensitive from a security point of view while as 907 face low-security threats. Some 3,360 have been declared fully secure for voting.
Voting will also not be held in areas under Taliban control.
Some 10.5 per cent of the country’s 33 million people live in Taliban held districts.