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Afghan Youth Debate: Ghazni Governor Promises Peaceful Vote

By Abdullah Lami

The governor of Ghazni province, Mohammad Musa Akbarzada, told an IWPR-organised debate that the province’s voters were eager for the chance to take part in the upcoming April 5 elections.

“We have two voter registration centres in the centre of Ghazni that are working from morning to night,” he told the April 2 event. “People come in groups to obtain their voting cards. This shows people's enthusiasm for taking part in the upcoming elections.”

Shokria Wali, director of the women’s affairs department for Ghazni province, told the audience that far greater numbers of women were expected to take part than in previous elections.

“We have seen that 40 per cent of women have obtained voting cards in Ghazni province and they will definitely be part of the process,” she said, calling on men to encourage female family members to vote.

Audience member Sediqa asked how officials planned to reassure the public about the transparency of the voting process.

Akbarzada replied that this was a major concern for Afghans, and that he himself would chair a commission to ensure electoral transparency in Ghazni. Other members of the commission include the provincial heads of the National Directorate of Security, army, police, Independent Election Commission and members of the Electoral Complaints Commission.

The governor assured the audience that the chances of fraud were minimal.

“There will be about ten observers at every polling station site,” he continued. “I don’t think ten observers are all going to have the same opinion about fraud. Therefore, fraud is not possible.”

“I seriously ask all observers to report documented cases if they find out about fraud,” he said, adding that government employees were forbidden from interfering in any way with the electoral process.

Another issue discussed in the debate was election security, given the numerous Taleban threats to disrupt voting and kill participants.

Akbarzada said he was confident that security measures would be effective in Ghazni, with 3,000 policemen and 200 security service personnel as well as the army deployed, giving a total of 6,000.

“We have created three rings of security in Ghazni. We assure our fellow Afghans they need not be concerned at all,” he added.

Afifa, another debate participant, asked whether insurgents had been invited to participate in the elections and if not, whether they would continue to fight.

Sher Jan Rahmani, who heads the provincial peace committee’s secretariat in Ghazni, said they had made many efforts to convince the Taleban to take part in the elections and join peace talks, with no success.

“We will still continue our efforts to persuade the government’s armed opponents to accept the constitution and peace so that stability will be ensured in the country,” he said.

Abdullah Lami is an IWPR trainee in Ghazni province.

This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

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