News story

ANP take the lead on security for Afghan elections

In a further sign of progress, when the Afghan parliamentary elections get underway tomorrow it will be the Afghan National Police (ANP) who have the primary responsibility for security around the polling stations country-wide.

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In Helmand province they have been preparing for the election for weeks now, and they are adamant they can counter any Taliban threat to a successful vote:

I am sure nothing will happen,” said ANP High Captain Mohammed Arah who is based at the provincial police headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

“My men are working hard to make sure the ballot boxes get to the polling booths, and this is a co-operation of the ANP, ANA [Afghan National Army], the Afghan special security force NDS and the AOB, the Afghan border police.”

The ANA are deploying in support of their ANP colleagues on the day, staying a few kilometres back from the polling stations, but ready to move closer if required.

Further back still will be ISAF forces, supporting both the ANA and the ANP in this Afghan-led security operation:

It is all going very well,” said Captain Arah, “because my men and the ANA are working together.

Female police officers in Afghanistan will also be playing their part in the General Election this weekend.

As the Taliban threat to the security of the vote remains high, female police officers will be deployed to polling stations nationwide to ensure that everyone going in or out can be searched for weapons or bombs.

In Helmand, Lieutenant Islam Bibi has been training her officers to be stationed in the female sections of the polling booths:

I have trained twenty girls to carry out this role,” said Lieutenant Bibi. “We will enforce good security so that more people should come out to vote.

Lieutenant Bibi has been a policewoman for the past six years and is among a rising number of female officers in the Afghan National Police.

At the provincial police headquarters in Lashkar Gah there are now sixteen policewomen in the service, some of whom were police officers long before the Taliban regime took power but they had to give up their jobs until the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The polling booths open at 0230hrs GMT on Saturday 18 September 2010, and will close at 1130hrs GMT that same day.

Published 17 September 2010