The Achievements of Past and Challenges Ahead
By: Abdul Maruf “Ghiasee”
After months of heated debates and tireless efforts from all parties involved in the process, the first round of the election produced no clear winner, and the Independent Election Commission set 14 of June for the second round of the elections. The outcome of the first round of the elections has been hailed as a major achievement for Afghanistan and a remarkable victory for its nascent democracy. All stakeholders of the elections are now bracing for the second of round of the race as the two frontrunner candidates are preparing for a decisive battle with start of election campaign about a week later. So far, Afghans proved to be capable of managing elections successfully while the international community had almost no concrete role in this round of the elections.
The first round of the elections proved many things: First of all, it showed that the Taliban will not be able to disrupt the elections if the Afghan government, the electoral bodies and the political spectrum of the country commit themselves to play fair in the process. Afghanistan’s electoral bodies, including Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Election Complaints Commission (ECC), proved to be committed to transparency and fairness of the election process to a great extent despite criticisms that they faced during the post-election process. They dealt with the electoral frauds and irregularities efficiently through dealing with the issues openly and in presence of the media and the candidates’ agents. Much of the credit in the first round of the elections goes the President Hamid Karzai who adeptly helped avoiding the elections going into north-south or ethnic lines.
On the voters’ part, the election campaigning period and the Election Day itself proved that Afghans are highly keen to embrace democracy and its main pillar – the elections. High election turnout among the Afghans rekindled hopes that the country is going to thrive as a representative democracy in the coming decades. As result, it is predictable that the country would manage to overcome other challenges such as ethnic rifts and corruption as democracy takes hold. The major winner of the first round of the elections was Afghanistan’s democracy. If the election runoff goes smoothly as the first round of the process, Afghans will have five years to celebrate the victory and enjoy the successes that the democracy yields.
Afghans managed to resolve the hardest challenges that were potentially threatening the first round of the elections. Despite death threats, the voters braved to stand in long queues and vote not only for choosing Afghanistan’s next president but also, and even more importantly, to say NO to the Taliban. Interestingly the Taliban helped the high turnout of the first round by organizing the dirtiest campaign of violence against the security forces and the civilians alike. It is expected that the second round of the elections would also be successful with active participation of the ordinary citizens as well as the election campaigns. However, the election runoff about with ever harder challenges and would be much more difficult than the first round of the elections in many ways. Afghans must get ready for the tough fight.