Official Praise for IWPR's Afghan Debates

Project encourages public participation in politics.

Official Praise for IWPR's Afghan Debates

Project encourages public participation in politics.

Thursday, 17 December, 2015

IWPR’s efforts to promote good governance have been praised by the governor of Afghanistan’s Laghman province, Abduljabar Naemi.

A number of IWPR-organised debates have been held in the eastern province, most recently an event discussing a controversial new mobile phone tax. 

The discussion series is part of IWPR’s Youth and Elections project, which encourages Afghans to take an active part in their country’s political future.

In an official letter, Naemi lauded IWPR’s efforts to strengthen links between officials and members of the public, highlighted the focus on development and social justice, and called for more discussions of this kind to be held.

Participants in other recent debates also welcomed them as an opportunity to engage directly with officials.

In Zabul, Maidan Wardak and Kandahar provinces, the discussions focused on tax collection and transparency. 

“In these debates, the public get to know their government, they get to know the authorities, and they learn about their plans and work,” Sayed Ahmad Azizi, a student representative at Maidan Wardak university, said. “The debates are very beneficial.”

Fellow-student Zergul added, “I believe that if these debates continue, useless or corrupt officials will have to mend their ways because they’ll realise that people have an opportunity to complain about them in public.”

“These debates should continue so that people can be enlightened,” agreed Mohammad Luqman, another resident of Maidan Wardak, a province west of Kabul. “Through this debate I learned about revenue sources, how they are collected, where are they transferred to and what are they spent on. I really was doubtful about the motives behind the government’s tax demands, but now I understand.”

At other debates held in Faryab, Ghor, Badakhshan and Kabul provinces, speakers complained about uncommunicative government officials. 

“These debates are like live media, as everything happens in real time,” said Haji Nazar Mohammad, the head of Charasia district council in Kabul province. “IWPR were the first ones to use this debate format, which others are now copying. It seems this process is successful.”

Meanwhile, debates in Farah, Nimroz, and Nuristan provinces discussed the reasons behind rising rates of drug addiction. 

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of IWPR’s Afghan Youth and Elections programme.

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