Elections in Afghanistan
Aug 25, 2004
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The panel, made up of members of a delegation recently returned from Afghanistan, discussed the upcoming presidential election in that country. They also responded to audience questions about the delegation’s findings .. Read More
The panel, made up of members of a delegation recently returned from Afghanistan, discussed the upcoming presidential election in that country. They also responded to audience questions about the delegation’s findings and recommendations.
Mr. Wollack spoke about the difficulties facing emerging democracies, the importance of Afghanistan’s upcoming elections, and potential challenges to Afghan democracy. He described the mission of the delegation in “establishing election training centers” to provide support and training for political parties, candidates, and election monitors.
Mr. Marlowe discussed the delegation’s mandate and detailed their visit to the region. He emphasized the importance of taking a broad view that includes parliamentary and local elections scheduled for 2005. He asserted that this year’s presidential election “sets the mold” for the future of elections in Afghanistan. Mr. Marlowe also spoke about the need for “sustained and comprehensive efforts to develop democratic governance” and the “full commitment of the international community.” He stressed that the success of democracy in Afghanistan relies on several factors: the need for election monitoring, security, voter education, and transparency in the electoral process; support for independent Afghan media; the clear delineation of international and Afghan responsibilities; and “effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.”
Ms. Newberg spoke about the “political issues that inform the technical” process of elections. She discussed the threat posed by continued warfare, a resurgent Taliban, and the presence of armed militia financed by the narcotics trade. She pointed out the need for a strong and independent judiciary to enforce electoral laws, particularly those that govern candidate eligibility. Ms. Newberg also spoke about the relation between the development of a functioning private economy and the reintegration of militia members into a broader civic society. She concluded her remarks with a discussion of the appropriate roles of the U.N., private groups, and foreign governments in the Afghan elections.
Mr. Braden spoke about challenges and uncertainties with the election and called for “controlled expectations.” He cited several obstacles: a lack of electoral experience, the complexity of the electoral process, a low literacy rate, threats to security, logistical issues with ballots and election equipment, and a lack of trained poll workers. While acknowledging the difficulties, he asserted that the October presidential election is “technically possible.” He noted, however, that the 205 parliamentary elections are considerably more complicated and have considerably less chance of success.