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

Afghan Youth Debates: Fraud Not Bad Enough to Undermine Elections

By Uzra Aziz

Levels of fraud in the April 5 presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan were not so high as to invalidate the overall results, speakers at an event in the western province of Herat said.

“The level of fraud was very low in these elections. It was mostly technical hitches, which don’t damage the transparency of the vote,” lecturer Sayed Taher Erfani told the April 10 debate which IWPR held at Khwaja Abdullah Ansari University. “Every sociological process has its problems.”

Other speakers said the issue that concerned them most was the shortage of ballot papers at polling stations. Shahpur Saber, a reporter in Herat province, said this was unacceptable, but would not detract from the overall success of the vote.

“A shortage of papers and other problems occurred in the elections, but not to such a degree as to undermine the process. We would still ask the Independent Election Commission to give a satisfactory response to people’s concerns,” he said

Other speakers spoke more generally about the elections as a turning point for Afghan society.

“The broad public participation in the face of warnings from the Taleban indicates that the Taleban have been defeated and have no popular support,” said sociologist Mohammad Anwar Matin.

Erfani added, “The people have shown the world that Afghans say no to terror and war, and that democracy is irreversible.”

Saber and others praised the role played by the Afghan police and army in ensuring election day was largely free of violence.

“The gulf between people and security forces has closed,” Saber said. “The security forces displayed ability, honesty and heroism by providing nationwide security on election day. They regained people's trust.”

Uzra Aziz 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.