Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghan Youth Debate: No Election Can be 100 Per Cent Clean

An Afghan election official says fraud is almost inevitable when people go to the polls in any country.

Sher Ali Faizi, head of public awareness for the Independent Election Commission’s Paktia branch, told an IWPR-organised debate on April 10 that the Afghan elections five days earlier had not been without some small problems.

But he added, “There can’t have been any elections in the world where all the people were 100 per cent satisfied, or in which there were no problems.”

Faizi stressed that people in Paktia had voted amid tight security measures.

“Young people, the elderly and women in Paktia province massively participated in the elections, contrary to expectations. This is a historic success for Afghans,” he concluded.

Ehsanollah Hamidi, provincial head of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation (FEFA), a non-government election monitoring body, said fears about security and transparency of the polls had proved unfounded.

“Confounding the propaganda spread by our enemies, the day was celebrated as a national festival and people took part in massive numbers,” he said.

A member of the audience, medical student Hamidollah Sediqi, asked the panel what the main obstacles encountered on election day were.

Hamidi replied that although fraud had been largely prevented, some problems had been recorded.

“Men voted on behalf of women in some polling stations, which is against the law. Also, fake ID cards were used in some places,” he said, adding that a number of Independent Election Commission (IEC) staffers and government officials had been accused of corrupt actions.

Faizi said that in the main, IEC staff had performed well.

“The commission will still take serious action with regard to such polling stations [where fraud took place]. Offenders will be punished and ballots from suspicious polling stations will be destroyed,” he said.

Mohammad Khan Raihan is an IWPR trainee in Paktia 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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