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

Afghan Youth Debates: Fair Vote as First Step to Better Governance

By Mohammad Khan Raihan

Afghanistan's war-weary public needs a new leadership capable of delivering security, good governance and improved access to education, an student debate in the southeastern Paktia province has heard.

During the IWPR-backed event held on December 31 at Paktia University in Gardez, the head of the local Independent Journalist’s Association underlined the importance of the April 5 presidential election.

Niazullah Asil Zazai said ensuring transparency and preventing election fraud were essential first steps towards bringing positive change to a nation devastated by more than 30 years of conflict.

If a legitimate vote could be guaranteed, Afghans could rightly expect an independent administration made up of deserving politicians, he added.

"There is still hope that the demands of the people will be met, and that the elections will be transparent and security will be guaranteed," Zazai said.

Sher Ali Faizi, the provincial spokesman for the Independent Election Commission, told the audience that every effort had been made to improve security ahead of election day, and that he was confident a peaceful transition to a new government could happen.

"We have made full preparations for the upcoming elections, and the security agencies have cooperated with us," he said. "I assure members of this audience that the upcoming elections will be conducted transparently."

Jawed Niazi, a student, asked panel members for their assessment of the likely security situation in the immediate aftermath of the election.

Zazai replied that stability would depend on who replaced President Hamed Karzai, while Obaidullah Akhundzada, associate professor of law and politics at Paktia University, argued that it would depend whether the election had been undermined by vote-rigging.

Mohammad Khan Raihan is a student at Paktia 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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