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

Afghan Youth Debates: Elections Must be Seen to be Fair

By Harun Hakimi






Students at an IWPR debate in western Afghanistan have heard how good security and a functioning civil society are critical to free and fair elections in Afghanistan.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC), told an IWPR debate held in Herat on February 27 that a successful ballot would also depend on international and Afghan election observers agreeing that the vote had been transparent.

Without that, he said, the credibility of the result would inevitably be questioned, at a time when Afghanistan could ill-afford further instability. If the April 5 elections were found to be in any way corrupt, a peaceful transition of power would become less likely.

Abdul Aziz Samim, the provincial director of the National Democratic Institute in Herat, said independent monitoring was another essential element of a well-run vote.

He said that while security remained a major challenge for these elections, he was nevertheless confident that sufficient numbers of observers would be ready to police the ballot.

Samim, whose organisation helps political parties strengthen their appeal and build their campaigning skills, added, "Another challenge that we’re hearing a lot about through our workshops is the shortfall in women participating in the elections.

“We're told that men are likely to tell female family members who to vote for, but we strongly encourage women to vote independently.”

Rahmani, a student in the audience, asked the panellists which organisations were helping monitor the election.

Samim told the event that the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan and (FEFA) and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) would both be deploying observer teams.

Harun Hakimi is a student at Herat 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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