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ANALYSIS: Taliban Prevents Afghans From Exercising Right To Vote – Human Rights Watch

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The recent upsurge in violence in Afghanistan is an attempt by the Taliban to prevent the Afghan people from exercising their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election on Saturday, Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher on Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch told RIA Novosti on Friday.

MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova - The recent upsurge in violence in Afghanistan is an attempt by the Taliban to prevent the Afghan people from exercising their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election on Saturday, Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher on Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch told RIA Novosti on Friday.

"The violence is designed to undermine the elections," Gossman said.

Two Associated Press journalists were shot in Afghanistan on Friday, one of them fatally. The Taliban has vowed to disrupt the election, which it calls a "waste of time."

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber exploded a bomb at the entrance to the Interior Ministry in Kabul, killing six people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Of course, there are other concerns about the elections themselves and the high potential for fraud," Patricia Gossman said. "But having seen the massive turnout of Afghans registering to vote - despite the high risk of violence from the Taliban - makes it clear how important the right is for ordinary Afghans and how vital it is that it be protected," she added.

The election is widely seen as the country's first democratic vote. The new president will succeed Hamid Karzai, who has been in power since 2001 and cannot run for a third consecutive term due to term limits.

Yet Brian Cloughley, former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, does not believe the election would be democratic.

"Last time, with many foreign observers, it was corrupt.  This time, with very few observers - none, in practical terms - and the warlords so powerful, it can't possibly be anything except chaotic," Cloughley told RIA Novosti.

Afghanistan has beefed up security across the country, deploying over 200,000 troops to prevent Taliban attacks. And Pakistan said it would tighten security along the Afghan borders for the peaceful conduct of the election.

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