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.
Sharon Behn
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.
 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid