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

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Afghan Youth Debates: Paktia Ready for Second-Round Vote

Abdul Raqib Nuri

Security officials and tribal elders in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktia have told voters that the authorities are well prepared for the second round of the presidential election.

Hajji Khawani Jahani, a local leader, said that villagers were waiting patiently for the June 14 ballot, and that people were just as keen to participate in the run-off as they had been on April 5.

Speaking to more than 100 students at a debate organised by IWPR, he said the narrowing of the field from nine presidential candidates to the two remaining contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, allowed the electorate to make much better sense of alternatives on offer.

But he warned that the job of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Afghan National Army was far from over, as a number of logistical and security issues remained unresolved.

"The security forces were able to ensure good security during the previous round," he told the debate. "But the weather is warmer this time around, and security problems [with the onset of the Taleban spring offensive] have increased, too.

"Another issue has to do with the IEC. I visited many polling centres on election day where voting had still not started by ten in the morning. We would ask the IEC to solve this."

Since Afghanistan's first round of voting, a number of political analysts have predicted that turnout will be significant lower on June 14 than last time, as apathy sets in in a process that has already taken close to two months.

Commentators also point out that the provincial council elections held the same day as the presidential poll helped swell the number of voters. With the provincial ballot over, Afghan, who have long felt detached from national politics are likely to feel less of a need to vote in a second presidential ballot.

The IWPR debate took place on May 25 at Paktia University. The panellists also included Gul Mohammad, regional departmental head of the justice ministry, Mohammad Bashir Bahram, head of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) in Paktia, and Sher Ali Faizi, head of the provincial public awareness section of the IEC.

Faizi rejected the notion that the run-off would attract fewer voters. He noted that the IEC was planning to open dozens more polling centres to reduce queues, and that more ballot papers were being printed to ensure no one missed out.

"Ballot papers ran out in the previous round, but we have found a solution to that," he said. "We had 618 polling booths [in Paktia on April 5], but this time we will increase that to over 700."

He acknowledged that it was hard to recruit adequate numbers of female security staff, to frisk women entering polling stations, but said the IEC was coordinating with other agencies to address this.

Gul Mohammad told the debate, "I can confidently say that the first round was a test which we [Afghan security forces] passed successfully. The people of Paktia proudly stood alongside us."

Abdul Raqib Nuri 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.

Afghan Youth Debates: Disagreement Over Election Fraud

Mohammad Isa Aria

Panellists at an IWPR debate in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz have clashed over the scale of electoral fraud during last month’s polls.

Mahmud Sadri, a lecturer at Kunduz University, said many people believed the April 5 election had been hijacked by "domestic and foreign institutions", whereas Hamidullah Baluch, regional spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC), defended its success.

Addressing students at an event held on May 21, Sadri insisted that the outcome of the first-round presidential ballot – held the same day as provincial elections – had been engineered, and that the wishes of the electorate were being ignored by a corrupt establishment.

He said this interference jeopardised the entire voting process and would create mistrust among voters considering whether to participate in the June 14 run-off.

"Unfortunately the first-round election results were predetermined, but we hope the second round will not be engineered," Sadri told undergraduates. “Lack of interest due to the election result…. will reduce participation [in the second round]."

Baluch was quick to condemn Sadri's remarks as both inaccurate and irresponsible. He acknowledged that problems had occurred in the first round but insisted steps had been taken to address them.

He stressed that people across the country had shown great faith in the electoral process – some seven million of them voted – and he urged them to continue to do so.

"If the commissions [the IEC and the Independent Election Complaints Commission] had committed organised fraud, then one of the candidates would have definitely won in the first round," he said. "Going to a second round indicates that they functioned transparently.

"The people of Afghanistan, civil society institutions, the media and thousands of domestic and foreign observers witnessed the election and the count. We are not concerned about the performance of the commissions; we are more concerned about security. But we are confident that our forces will deliver reliable security for the second round just as they did for the first."

Later in the debate, Abdullah Rasuli, chairman of the civil society network in Kunduz province, sought to reassure students that the second round would be better organised than the first.

He too maintained that the April 5 poll had been a resounding success, and that Afghans had every right to take heart from the achievement.

"All the institutions worked well and God willing, there will be fewer problems in the second round," he told the debate. "The success was due to civil society institutions which highlighted potential problems and exerted pressure on the electoral commissions to address them. Despite the problems, the IEC's performance was still admirable."

Mohammad Isa Aria 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.

Seven

Afghan Youth Debates: Paktia Ready for Second-Round Vote

Abdul Raqib Nuri

Security officials and tribal elders in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktia have told voters that the authorities are well prepared for the second round of the presidential election.

Afghan Youth Debates: Disagreement Over Election Fraud

Mohammad Isa Aria

Panellists at an IWPR debate in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz have clashed over the scale of electoral fraud during last month’s polls.

Six


Clashes Resume in Donetsk After Lull

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On Syrian Leader's Home Ground, Many Mistrust Election

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Five

Afghan Youth Debates: Paktia Ready for Second-Round Vote

Abdul Raqib Nuri

Security officials and tribal elders in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktia have told voters that the authorities are well prepared for the second round of the presidential election.

Afghan Youth Debates: Disagreement Over Election Fraud

Mohammad Isa Aria

Panellists at an IWPR debate in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz have clashed over the scale of electoral fraud during last month’s polls.

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За последние часы в Донецке силы антитеррористической операции нейтрализовали ряд огневых точек террористов.

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