Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Afghan Youth Debates: Election Body "Bias" Claim in Kunduz
Civil society groups in the northern Kunduz province have called on voters to continue their support into the second round of Afghanistan's presidential election.
Habibullah, the regional director of the Peace and Civil Society Network, told an IWPR debate that the poll represented a real chance of change that Afghans could ill-afford to ignore.
Addressing an audience of more than 100 students, he accepted that substantial problems dogged the initial April 5 vote but argued that encouraging signs emerged, too.
He urged the country's security forces to maintain vigilance during the June 14 run-off and called on the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to take more effective measures to ensure that its staff were free from outside influence.
"Afghans should participate [in the second round] in large numbers because over the past 30 years, we have tried out all the alternatives – coups, coalitions and wars – and they have all failed,” Habibullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, told the event. “There is no way forward other than elections."
The IWPR debate took place at Kunduz University on May 14 and included guest speakers Mohammad Naem Rahim, a lecturer at Kunduz University, and Gholam Haidar Haidar, head of the Pesarlay Literary and Cultural Association.
Rahim told the debate that he believed the IEC had failed to recruit and train sufficient numbers of staff to handle the seven million Afghans who turned out to vote in the first round.
"One problem is that our electoral institutions have failed to train specialist employees over the last five years," Rahim said. He went on to add, however, that it was unreasonable to compare Afghanistan with other nations when it came to elections, since it was "mired in corruption".
Habibullah claimed that the IEC was short of "honest" employees and had also failed in its duty to place a representative at each of Kunduz province's 250 polling stations on election day.
Haidar went further, alleging that thousands of IEC employees across Afghanistan displayed bias during the April 5 polls, and that they would be reported to the authorities.
"Most of the people working for the electoral commission have acted in favour of a particular candidate in one way or another," he said. "Three thousand individuals have the potential to seriously undermine the choices made by the seven million people who voted."
Yalda Yusufzai is a student at Kunduz 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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