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Afghan Youth Debates: "No State Interference" in June Run-Off






Despite predictions that the Afghan authorities would interfere in the second round of the presidential ballot, electoral officials and security commanders in the east of the country insist there were no real problems there. 

The result of the June 14 vote remains unclear as an independent audit of the ballots cast continues. The audit was called after one of the two candidates standing, Abdullah Abdullah, refused to accept preliminary figures that showed he had lost to Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

Civil society groups in the eastern region, which includes Nangarhar, Kunar Laghman and Nuristan provinces, say they are aware of cases where government officials working on behalf of both candidates attempted to rig the vote. The local campaign teams of Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have levelled similar accusations at one another.

The head of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) for eastern Afghanistan, Mohammad Naim Kashaf, said only a few allegations of official interference had been registered across the region, and investigations had not brought anything serious to light.

Police in Nangarhar are currently investigating claims that bodyguards working for Abdullah's campaign team opened fire at children chanting slogans in support of Ashraf Ghani. Three of the children were injured.

Despite allegations of wrongdoing, local officials insist their staff had no part in it.

"I remained impartial as governor and I did not allow any government official to interfere in the election," Nangarhar provincial governor Ataullah Ludin told IWPR.

General Mohammad Zaman Waziri, commander of the army’s 201st Corps in eastern Afghanistan – which includes Kunar and Laghman provinces as well as Nangarhar – told IWPR that there were no attempts to influence voting.

"The security forces… did not interfere in the election at all, nor did they allow anyone else to do so," he said.

General Waziri said he had not heard of any cases where the armed forces had acted improperly.

Some residents of Nangarhar, however, said there had been cases where Afghan army soldiers had told voters that their lives would be in danger if they did not select a particular candidate.

“Government forces exerted pressure on people and directed them towards one specific candidate" a man called Ahmad told IWPR.

Zabihullah Ghazi is a student at Nangarhar University and an IWPR trainee reporter.  

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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