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Candidates Must Focus Campaigns on Substance, Not Ethnicity: FEFA

Candidates Must Focus Campaigns on

Kabul- the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) on Tuesday directed attention to candidate campaigns in the upcoming elections, saying that the Afghan people expect honest campaigning based on substantive platforms, not ethnic ties.

The statement came only a few days remain before the official campaign period for Presidential candidates begins on February 2.The April elections will mark a pivotal moment for Afghanistan, coming as relations between the U.S. and Kabul fray, the Taliban ramps up its annual spring offensive and NATO moves ahead with its troop withdraw.

Many commentators have portrayed the upcoming elections as the point in which Afghan democracy can be solidified and set the country’s post-war future off in the right direction.However, with the current state of security nationwide and the country’s history of electoral fraud, that will not happen automatically.

According to FEFA Chair Nader Naderi, much responsibility falls on the shoulders of the candidates who will be the most public faces of the elections.”The people shout vote for the candidates on the basis of their programs, their ideas, but not on the basis of their ethnicity and racial relations,” Naderi said on Tuesday. “This would ensure Afghanistan’s political maturity and democratic values.”

Afghan politics in the past have been largely brokered along ethnic lines. However, this year, civil society activists like Naderi have pushed a major campaign for candidates to make a greater effort to articulate their policy goals and for the public to be broadly better informed.

It would seem most Afghans would agree with Naderi, and have similar hopes for the candidates’ campaigns. “We hope that the Presidential candidates avoid giving fake promises to the people that are beyond their abilities, they should rely on the pledges they can fulfill,” Kabul resident Ahmad Rashid said.

Many young Afghans, in particular, who are heavily invested in the upcoming elecitons, have looked to encourage candidates to distance themselves from ethnic, racial, linguistic and regional affiliations in their bids for office. “We ask the candidates to refuse nationalism and instead present their policies in a manner that wins them the majority of votes,” Ghazani resident Ms. Khadija told TOLOnews.

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