Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Afghan Youth Debate: Kandahar Polls Went Off Peacefully
The Afghan electoral process was hailed as a success by panelists at an IWPR-organised debate at Kandahar university on April 10. They said scattered incidents of violence and fraud could not detract from the overall achievement.
Colonel Mohammad Hashem Khugiani, commander of the provincial coordination centre for the Afghan security forces, praised the high level of inter-agency cooperation that ensured election day passed calmly.
“We developed a coherent plan. Afghans ensured poll security by themselves. As you saw, there were no unpleasant incidents in Kandahar,” he said.
Fazila, a student at Kandahar university, asked panelist Sayed Sarwar Amani, head of the Kandahar Press Club, for his view of the scale of female participation in the province.
“My own observations of election day were that there were as many long queues of women as there were of men,” Amani responded. “They voted with huge interest and enthusiasm. I saw many elderly women demanding to know why ballot papers had run out.”
Another student, Mohammad Rahim, asked Gol Ahmad Kamin, who stood as a candidate in the provincial council elections, how impartial government officials and the security forces had been on election day.
“Past elections were not free of fraud, but I believe the gains [this time] count for more than the fraud,” Kamin replied. “Look, these elections took place despite expectations to the contrary. The election commission did not expect such numbers of people to participate. Some candidates wanted to commit fraud, but they were unable to. The security forces were anticipating negative incidents, but these were prevented.
“These things make us very pleased and they place the elections in a good light. There were problems, too, but they were very few in number.”
Nesar Ahmad is a student at Kandahar university and an IWPR trainee.
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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