Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Pros and Cons of Presidential Election in Afghanistan

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Pros and Cons of Presidential  Election in Afghanistan

In spite of some challenges and shortcomings, the current presidential election described as one of the best election in recent years. Despite serious security warnings, the people of Afghanistan have bravely voted to elect their favorite candidates. Before holding the election, the Taliban had threatened not to allow holding elections intensifying their attacks on military and civilian targets in Kabul and other Afghan cities and used every possible means to hit Afghan citizens and government. Some of the political elements also tried to prevent from holding elections but failed to reach their dreams. Nevertheless, the brave people of Afghanistan, without attention to the political dilemma and security threats, participated in the election.
Given the recent controversy over republicanism and Emirate, thousands of old men, women, the disabled, religious group and various kinds of people participated in the presidential election. Among various groups of people, there were also people who lost their fingers in previous elections, but they attended in the election saying that if Taliban cut all their fingers they will vote for the sake of their country.  For example, Saifullah was one of the Afghan voters whose picture widely circulated in social media networks while extremely admired by Afghan people. Saifullah emphasized that he will not desist voting even if he loses all his fingers. This way, people said “no” to Emirate and extremist system in the country.
Beside the bravery of Afghan people, the heroism and the performance of the security forces and police were also commendable. Though the Taliban used its all power to disrupt the election, the least human casualties have been recorded in comparison to the past elections. According to security officials, nearly 70 movements have been noted across the country, but most of them either neutralized or suppressed by security forces. The sustained, serious and regular work of security forces across the country has taken away the initiative of Taliban and other terrorist groups. Most of those who feared security threats at the start of Election Day went to the polls in the middle of the day with confidence.
As aforementioned, despite all strengths there was also some shortcoming which is expectable in the contexts of Afghanistan. The main issues which widely raised by public media was included: missing names of voters from voter lists, non-functional biometric devices in some areas, employment of underage workers, usage of erasable election ink and mandatory photo capture of  women. According to TEFA, biometric devices faced some issues such as running out of charge and power banks also failed to recharge. It is also said that biometric devices at 109 polling sites printed the lists of male voters instead of female voters and vice versa, while the devices in 73 sites stopped functioning after 11am or 12pm and additional devices could not meet the needs of all the sites. In addition, the election workers in 24 percent of polling sites were inexperienced to use biometric devices.
There was also some criticism about absence of enough election materials in some polling stations. For example, 3,000 registered voters were provided with only 200 ballot papers in Malistan district of Ghazni. In a polling station in Kabul, 1,340 ballot papers were available for 3,500 voters registered in the area. Taking female voters’ photos in some of women’s polling stations was not mandatory and women could vote without their facial record while female voters in some polling stations did not allow their photos to be captured, therefore they left polling sites without casting their votes. In some provinces including Kabul, Ghazni, Ghor and Sar-i-Pul, the indelible ink on voters’ finger was erasable.
Nevertheless, this election was far better than previous elections. The brave people of Afghanistan sent a clear message to Taliban that elections are not against peace process and if the Taliban wants peace in Afghanistan, anytime they can negotiate with the people’s elected government. In recent years, the Taliban have refused to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government and have instead negotiated with foreign countries, and some Afghan politicians have also hoped to negotiate with the Taliban without presence of the government. But the widespread turnout of people in election demolished all their and dreams and plans.
This election has also a message to the international community, especially the US that the Afghan people will not be satisfied less than republicanism and democratic system in Afghanistan. Therefore, the negotiations with Taliban must not cross the key achievement of past eighteen years and also should not forget the presence of Afghan elected government in talks. The brave women of Afghanistan have also sent a meaningful message to all stakeholders that they cannot tolerate the situation which was imposed on them 20 years ago. Though a large number young women and girls did not see the Taliban system, they studied about their dark mentality and can imagine the consequences of Emirate if the group takes the political power in the country. 

Anyway, now it is the responsibility of the election commissions to protect the people votes and pay value to the enthusiasm of people for democracy and sovereignty of law in the country. The electoral commissions must take all necessary measures to protect and safeguard people’s votes and to prevent fraud and abuse from votes of people. People will not accept any two or three headed government anymore. Meanwhile, the presidential candidates should also respect the people’s vote and the rule of law refraining from any bias and arbitrary results that may disturb people’s minds. No one should use the electoral process as weapons and they should stop saying there must be something wrong or electoral frauds if they lose. In general, we must be committed to rule of law and solve our problems through the principles outlined in the Electoral Code and the applicable laws of the country, and not allow changing the national opportunities to national threats.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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