Taliban threaten to hit Afghan presidential poll ralliestext_fields
Kabul: The Taliban on Tuesday warned that election rallies for Afghan presidential polls will be attacked, denouncing the democratic exercise due in September as a "ploy aided by foreigners to hoodwink common Afghans".
The warning comes in the midst of peace talks between the militant group and the US for ending an 18-year old war in Afghanistan.
"This election process is nothing more than a ploy to deceive the common people because all understand that ultimate decision making power lies with those (foreigners) funding and managing this process," the Taliban said in a statement cited by Efe news.
The militant group has sounded optimism over the success of peace talks, which are currently under way in Doha and are expected to culminate in a commitment from the US on the withdrawal of its troops and Taliban's pledge to halt its violent attacks in the country.
The Taliban called for a poll boycott, threatening that its fighters would do anything to block the process of what it called "theatrical" elections.
"To prevent losses... from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they (the people) must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets," said the statement shared with the media.
The group asked the western powers that instead of supporting "this sham process", they should "dedicate their energies and resources" on negotiations so that the "ongoing peace process in these critical moments is not sabotaged for a few figures".
The Afghan presidential election is scheduled to take place on September 28. President Ashraf Ghani is seeking a second term in a contest that has Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah as one of his main rivals.
The election process began on July 28 with rallies of Ghani.
On that day, a group of armed men attacked the office of President's running mate, Amrullah Saleh. The gun battle lasted for about six hours and killed 24 people. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Taliban also said that the Afghan government had its control over a limited area of the country and a very small number of voters would participate in the election process.