Students, residents tricked into rally for Rassoul
GAZRDEZ (Pajhwok): A huge rally was organised on Saturday in support of presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul in the capital of southeastern Paktia province, amid claims that most participants were tricked or forced into joining the political gathering.
Some government officials were also seen at the rally in Gardez, where participants coming from different parts said they had been approached by district chiefs to reach the venue.
Students alleged their teachers had deceived them by saying an education programme had been arranged for them. They said their participation was requested by the governor.
Noor Rahman, a high school student in Gardez, said he had received a call from one of his teachers on Friday evening, asking him attend the rally for Rassoul.
Some participants said they had been told by district chiefs to attend the event and they would pay their transport fares and other expenses.
A Samkani resident, Mamoor, said he had been asked by the district chief to attend the rally in return for 1,000 afghanis.
Pajhwok tried to take comments from the governor’s house about officials’ participation in the rally during working hours, but did not succeed.
But a Wolesi Jirga member from Paktia, Abdul Hanan Haqwayun, claimed the rally had been organised by the governor.
Independent Electoral Complaints Commission official in Paktia Mohammad Bashir Behram said they had also received some complaints against the way the rally was organised, but the objections were informal.
He said they were collecting evidence about officials’ participation in the gathering and those found guilty would be referred to the authorities concerned for action.
Meanwhile, some reporters said they were not allowed to cover the rally held in support of Rassoul.
A local radio reporter, Rahmatullah Rahimzai, said he was among several others expelled from the rally. He said reporters coming from Kabul were allowed to attend the rally.
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