Postpone Presidential Election until 2018: Tribal Elders
Kabul – A number of tribal elders from various provinces of Afghanistan jointly advocated for Afghanistan’s Presidential election slated for next spring to be delayed until 2018 in light of the security problems the country continues to face. The elders said that enough Afghans are endangered by insurgent activity that if the election was held according to schedule, it would have unacceptably low participation.
The handful of tribal elders voiced their opinions at a gathering in Kabul on Tuesday that brought local community leaders, MPs and other political leaders from around the country to strategize solutions for Afghanistan’s most pressing issues. The tribal elders claimed that the unchecked presence of insurgent groups in many locations around the country and the related challenges faced in assuring broad voter participation were reason enough to believe it would be impossible to hold legitimate elections for President Hamid Karzai’s successor next year.
“On behalf of Zabul’s residents, I must recognize that a lot of progress was made in the past 11 years, but people don’t see real peace in the country yet and the election date is so close,” said Abdul Ghani Tokhi, a tribal elder from Zabul province. “The election should not be held because of the security problems and the lack of participation,” he said.
According to Mr. Tokhi, 10 percent of Zabul’s residents are simply incapable of registering to vote and casting ballots in the election on account of the overwhelming presence of insurgents in certain areas of the province. While the figures cited by Mr. Tokhi are unconfirmed, the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) did recently express its own concerns about security surrounding the election. Nearly half of all the planned voting stations in the country – 3,410 out of 6,845 – remain under security threat. Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, the head of the IEC Secretariat, cautioned that the Commission would be unable to conduct the elections if the amount of polling centres under threat was not decreased.
“Holding a fair and transparent election is impossible in a country where hundreds of people are killed daily,” said Hazrat Saqeb, a tribal elder from Bamyan province at the meeting in Kabul. The elders expressed anxieties about what might happen if the election was held on schedule, and suggested that the country might see increased violence and division where such conflict didn’t previously exist. They also assured that their stance was not motivated by any special interests to benefit an individual or sect of society, but instead by “national interests.”
“We urge the government and international community to delay the election until 2018, because the situation is not okay,” Mr. Saqeb said. “This is a people’s movement; this is not for the interests of any single person or language, our aim is the interest of the nation.” The elders were not alone in their stance on Tuesday. Other political figures gathered at the meeting in the capital also showed support for the proposal to delay elections until security issues are resolved.
“It is not fair to hold elections right now, so they shouldn’t be held,” said MP Mullah Trakhil Mohammadi. “We are not talking about someone’s interests…If the election is postponed, it would be for the good of the people,” he said. Although a delay in the elections was not proposed by the IEC Secretariat head, Mr. Amarkhail did express a similar sentiment in so far as it would be unfair for security issues to inhibit people’s right to vote. (ToloNews)