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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid