News / Asia

    Fears of Violence, Fraud Cloud Afghan Presidential Election

    Fears of Violence, Fraud, Cloud Afghan Electionsi
    X
    April 03, 2014 10:13 PM
    Millions of Afghans are being asked to defy Taliban threats and cast their votes Saturday for a new president. But Afghans are telling VOA's Sharon Behn in Kabul that their biggest fear is that the elections will be marred by fraud, and losing candidates will not accept the results.
    Millions of Afghans are being asked to defy Taliban threats and cast their votes Saturday for a new president. But Afghans and analysts say that their biggest fear is that the elections will be marred by fraud, and losing candidates will not accept the results. That, in turn, could lead to greater unrest, instability and violence.
     
    So far, there are three front runners: Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank official, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and Zalmai Rasoul, also a former foreign minister. Apart from differences in personal style - Ghani is seen as a rigid stickler for form, Abdullah as a well-dressed aristocrat, and Rasoul as a reserved technocrat close to President Hamid Karzai -- there is not much difference in campaign messages.
     
    Campaign promises

    All three are vowing to fight corruption, improve the weak economy, create jobs, rule with good governance and lead the country forward. Each one has indicated he will sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington. And all three are paying some form of lip service to women’s rights.
     
    But Abdullah has taken a tougher stance toward the Taliban, and vows to change the current political system that puts most power in the hands of the president, to a parliamentary system.
     
    Election officials are hoping some 12 million voters will defy Taliban threats and cast their ballots. And some 300,000 military and police personnel have fanned out across the country to protect some 6,400 polling stations to make sure that will happen.  
     
    Voter concerns

    But on the dusty, gritty streets of Kabul, voters like Mullah Mohammad Aman are more worried about election fraud, and how the candidates themselves will react to the ballot results.
     
    “Any candidate who wins the election cleanly, we will accept him. Our concern is about fraud, if there is fraud and the elections go to second round, then this nation, which has already suffered so much bloodshed, will again suffer from violence,” he said. “We call on all the candidates to respect the people's vote."
     
    Afghans still remember the widespread allegations of vote-rigging, ballot-stuffing, ghost-ballots and overall corruption that marred the 2009 elections. In the end, President Hamid Karzai won that ballot before a second round after Abdullah Abdullah withdrew his candidacy.
     
    Readiness

    According to United Nations officials in Kabul, election officials are much better prepared this time around. Some 750 polling stations in insecure areas have been closed, far fewer than the 2,000 that were closed in 2009.
     
    Some analysts also fear Karzai's strong patronage system may corrupt the outcome.

     “The commission is appointed by Karzai, so not only is he appointing the Independent Election Commission that runs the elections, and therefore is responsible to him, he is appointing the people who will determine if there’s any irregularities, and as a result it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in the electoral system,” noted Peter Galbraith, former UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan.
     
    Most Afghans expect a degree of corruption, no clear winner, and a second round of voting. But analysts say it will be enough if Afghans themselves -- and the candidates -- are willing to accept the final results.
     
    Andrew Wilder of the Unites States Institute of Peace says some of the leading candidates have already been talking about post-vote consensus building. “I think they understand better anyone what’s at stake here, and that there is probably going to be a need for some kind of government of national unity where some of the candidates who lost are accommodated by the winners.”
     
    Vote count

    Preliminary results are to be released on April 24, more than two weeks after election day. The final tally is expected May 14. If there is no clear winner, a second round run-off would be held within two weeks. But candidates and their supporters are already saying they will refuse to recognize the results if they suspect fraud.
     
    The office of Jandad Spinghar, executive director of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) is modest, and like most offices here, is hidden behind high metal gates topped with razor wire. The Taliban has repeatedly vowed to kill those taking part in these elections.
     
    Spinghar says it's essential that the losing candidates accept defeat. "Politically, the international community and Afghan civil society together should play a kind of role to try and convince these candidates that they should reach an agreement on some general principle where they accept the final result."
     
    This election is seen as vital for Afghanistan's stability and political and economic future. It is also a test of the Afghan security forces’ ability to rebuff militant attacks and keep their nation secure.
     
    Militants are equally determined to derail the vote. Acting director of the National Directorate of Security, Rahmatullah Nabil says various militant groups, including the Pakistan Taliban, are joining forces with the Afghan Taliban in an attempt to achieve that objective.
     
    Many voters are waiting until election day to decide whether it is safe enough to go their local polls. The recent high-profile bloody bomb and gun attacks in Kabul and around the country have left many nervous. Which means that on the eve of this crucial vote, it is still not clear who will win, and therefore what direction Afghanistan will take for the next five years.
     

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ali baba from: new york
    April 03, 2014 1:04 PM
    whoever will be elected ,Afghanistan will be the same .terrorism , planting drugs, sexually abused boys will continue. we to keep in our mind that is not the problem of united state ,and my tax money will not spend on Afghanistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora