As Afghans prepare to vote on Saturday in the country’s third presidential election since 2001, senior security officials said the Taliban should not hinder the voting in order to force intra-Afghan negotiations.

Almost 445 polling centers out of 5,371 centers will be closed on the election day but the Ministry of Interior has assured a safe environment will be provided.

“I have a message for the Taliban: You should not prevent the people from their right. If you are Afghans, allow the people of Afghanistan to vote so that a strong government is created and then you can attend to the peace negotiations with that government,” Chief of Army Staff Gen. Bismillah Waziri said. “But it will not be possible if you want to hinder the process.”

Figures by the Election Commission show that almost 9.6 million people have registered to vote in the presidential election.

Deputy Minister of Interior Gen. Khoshal Sadat said they have removed many threats against polling centers.

“The first stage ended with better results compared with previous elections and the second stage begins tomorrow (Saturday),” he said.

Meanwhile, members of the Independent Election Commission at a press conference in Kabul assured the public that the election will be held transparently.

The head of the commission, Hawa Alam Nuristani, said the voting will start at 7am and will end at 3pm.

“We cannot announce the final results at the end of the election day,” Nuristani said, adding that at the end of the day, only the total number of voters will be announced.

“We are committed to providing a good environment for monitoring (the process on the election day),” head of the Election Commission’s secretariat, Habib-Ur-Rahman, said.

He said that are 144,146 national and international observers for the election day.