Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No more elections, thanks

As Western concern mounts over the delayed Afghan election results, interest among locals may be ebbing. It seems that, for a host of reasons, many Afghans see only trouble to be had in a push for a run-off election. Many feel that conflict and foreign interference are becoming increasingly more likely as the crisis wears on:

Little Afghan appetite for more voting
BBC News Online

KABUL, Sept 23 - It's hard to find Afghans with much enthusiasm for a second round presidential election run-off - or even for the drawn-out process of investigation into widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

Even supporters of the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, seem sceptical at best.

"Many people are poor here," Gul Ahmad, a 53-year-old bus driver, told me.

"A second round would cost a lot of money that should be spent on other things.

"I voted for Dr Abdullah but we should accept the election result now. Everybody should compromise in the interests of the nation."

Afghans know that elections here bring violence. They can also divide the country's main ethnic groups against each other.

Taliban intimidation, together with attacks on polling stations, meant that in much of Afghanistan it took real courage to vote last month. Few want to go through it all again.

Human rights activist Ozala Ashraf Nemat said she, too, was against a second round.

"Why would a second round be any different from the first?" she said.

"Why would it be more free or more fair? Who would guarantee it?

"People feel they have already voted. If there is a second round there will be a much lower turn-out."

The result of that, she added, could be even less credible than that of the first round.

"People are fed up with the delays," she says.

"They just want to get the election over with, they have families to feed - they want to get on with their lives." ...

It is coming from outside the country. Foreign governments have to keep persuading their own populations that the effort they are putting into the war is worth it.

An election that is widely perceived to be flawed beyond redemption - stolen even - stokes scepticism in Western, not Afghan, public opinion... (link)
Orzala Ashraf, founder of Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, was mentioned on this blog some time ago. Ashraf was a participant at an Oslo peace-building conference, the resulting paper from which reports: "It is now generally agreed that a military solution will not work in Afghanistan."

As odd as the BBC report may sound to Western ears, Afghan reporters have heard similar sentiments:
Run-off polls spurned as a conspiracy
Pajhwok Afghan News
By Hamid & Ahmad Javed

Sept 29 - A large number of people in northern Jawzjan and central Kapisa provinces supported the August 20 presidential polls but voiced aversion to a run-off election.

Participants of separate gatherings said last month's presidential and provincial council elections were transparent and called on foreign countries to stop interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs...

In Kapisa, participants of a similar gathering said taking the elections into the second round was against the interest of Afghans. Religious scholars, former mujahideen and youths took part in the public meeting... (link)

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