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Afghan Youth Debates: Election Outcome Not Predetermined

Panellists in an IWPR debate in the southern Afghan province of Helmand dismissed rumours that the outcome of the April 5 presidential election was known in advance.

The allegations were raised by students attending an IWPR debate held on March 27 in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, ahead of the vote. They asked whether it was true that foreign governments rather than Afghan voters would decide who became president.

Shafiqullah Safi, regional spokesman for the Independent Election Commission, said the claims were unfounded.

“I totally dismiss rumours that our next president has already been appointed," he said. "It is up to Afghanistan to elect its future president."

Mohammad Hashim Nurani, who lectures in law and politics at the privately-run Arakozia University, said that if people did not vote and then expressed unhappiness with their new leader, it would be their own fault.

"It's up to the public to prevent unsuitable leaders from getting into power by going out and electing someone better qualified. If only a few people vote and an unqualified candidate wins and goes on to make poor decisions, that can only be the fault of the electorate," he said.

His views were echoed by Mohammad Ismail Shariatyar, deputy director of the Bost Cultural Association in Helmand, who said that “if votes are cast appropriately for those who deserve it, then the country will prosper. But if they are used inappropriately, this could potentially be devastating. Hence, we need to be very careful."

Abdul Wali Paizhand is a student in Helmand 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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