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Afghan Youth Debates: NGOs Say Poll Monitors Ready in Kunduz
Civil society groups in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan have assured voters that the province is well prepared for the forthcoming elections.
Representatives of non-government organisations attending an IWPR debate in Kunduz on February 27 said enough observers would be in place by April 5 to report any fraudulent activity at polling stations across the region.
Sayed Hashim Moqtader, provincial representative for the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, said his staff had trained more than 2,000 election observers from all seven districts in Kunduz province.
He noted that both provincial and presidential candidates had asked for their own campaign teams to be trained in how to conduct poll monitoring.
“Each candidate came to us with between 15 and 250 of their staff, and we have trained them," he said. "We have 107 candidates standing in the provincial elections in Kunduz, and each of them will have observers at all the polling stations."
The debate was attended by around 80 undergraduates from Kunduz University, with the panellists including Fereshta Joyenda, a spokeswoman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kunduz, Sayed Karim Talash, regional spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and Abdul Ghafur Hotak, a youth affairs officer in the province.
Talash told the event that while the human rights commission had been involved in examining aspects of the electoral process, it had not been asked for advice on recruiting election observers.
“We were not involved in the hiring process so we have no way of knowing whether staff were taken on based on their ability," he said. "We have no reason to think it wasn't transparent, but we can't yet tell for certain."
Mohammad Zamir Naser, a student in the audience, asked the panel what was being done to encourage younger voters to take part.
Joyenda said the IEC had run several public awareness programmes, including for younger women.
“We have run programmes for men and women who were invited from districts and villages all over Kunduz,” she said. She added that 80 to 90 per cent of IEC staff in the province were aged under 30.
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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