News / Asia

Afghan Elections Fraught with Difficulties

TEXT SIZE - +

Afghanistan's parliamentary elections on Saturday will be another key test for the embattled central government and observers are expressing concern about irregularities before the polls even open.  

VOA talked to three veteran Afghan watchers about what is at stake, what problems are likely to disrupt the vote and how the results might affect the balance of power.

Teresita Schaffer is director of the South Asia Program at CSIS and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia. Karl Inderfurth is a professor at George Washington University and former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. And Mark Schneider is Senior Vice President of the International Crisis Group.

Is the Afghan government prepared for this election?

Schaffer:  "In a sense you can say it's going to be a decade before Afghanistan is prepared to hold this vote, but they don't have the luxury of not doing it. They have held one parliamentary election in the period after the fall of the Taliban government.  This one has been postponed once already. It's obviously not an ideal situation for holding an election but I think they are in a position to give it a try."

Schneider: "I think we're going to see a replay of last year's flawed presidential elections. The current situation is bad in terms of security and that's going to have a significant impact on the ability of the electoral commission to carry out the election."

Inderfurth: "The obstacles are great, but [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai and the international community has agreed that he should go ahead with these elections. So whether or not this is the best time for an election or not, they are proceeding."

Saturday's elections are for the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, which is responsible for lawmaking and voting on presidential actions. What role has it traditionally played in the country's politics?

Schaffer: "Afghanistan has never had a strong centralized government but, before the Soviet invasion, it did for many years have a functioning parliament.  And so this is a part of government that Afghans are familiar with. It's also one of the few institutions that provides some balancing power to the power of the president and the non-elected, but very real power of some of the local personalities that are dominant in different parts of Afghanistan."

Many people are predicting irregularities in the polls. Are there any hopeful signs about the credibility of the vote?


Schneider: "I was in Afghanistan in July and spoke to members of the independent human rights commission. They already had seen flaws in the vetting process of candidates. Some 350 candidates or so had been identified as having links to illegal armed groups, and yet they were permitted to become candidates. In the end, only about 30 people were barred from running. The good news side is there are a lot of women and young people who have registered as candidates, there is a lot of enthusiasm about the elections and obviously having parliament is extremely important as a branch of government in a democracy."

Schaffer: "This is not a clone of the presidential election. It's more difficult in some ways, but less polarizing in other ways. More difficult because it has to take place in 249 different constituencies that have 249 different races and so it's a humongous management task. What makes it less polarizing is precisely the fact that you've got something like 2500 candidates, which works out to something like 10 per seat. What that means is that it is not so easy to identify which candidates fall neatly into which category for the purposes of gaming the political corruption. And when you have multi-cornered races, you can have surprises."

Inderfurth: "One hopeful sign is that the Afghan body responsible for the election, the Independent Election Commission, has gotten a new leader and is being seen as running a more credible process. So we'll have to see how these Afghan bodies work. The Afghans themselves are determined to run these elections."


You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid