The Role of Citizen Journalism in the Elections
Afghan internet-savvy youth are playing a crucial role in the ongoing elections – through exposing frauds and irregularities that have taken place on the Election Day. Since the day of elections about two weeks ago, dozens of video clips have been circulating on the social networking websites that exposes frauds, intimidations, ballot stuffing and other sorts of electoral irregularities. The widespread enthusiasm among young Afghanistan to use internet and social technology tools for promotion of elections and participation in the political process is indicating a new generation is rising in Afghanistan.
Since last presidential elections in 2009, users of high-speed third generation (3g) internet have risen up ten times as technology is rapidly expanding in the war-ravaged country which was virtually imageless during the Taliban reign before 2001. Comprising a large majority of the country’s population, Afghan youth are passionately using internet technology to contribute in the country’s political and social affairs. These segment of the society have played crucial role in the elections and as they staged a remarkable support for the Afghan security forces who foiled Taliban attack on election day.
There is broad passion among a large portion of Afghan youths to use the social networking tools as free media for reflecting the political affairs of the country. This segment of the society monitors the elections closely. Even the Afghan commission for elections is now looking into the role of the Afghan youths who have access to the internet and other sorts of technology. As the electoral bodies are tallying votes from the weekend’s presidential elections, dealing with hundreds of allegations or complaints that have been reported to the complaints commission is becoming a difficult part of the process. Many of the irregularities have been published through the social networking websites.
The Independent Election Commission needs to heed to the voice of Afghan youths that are being expressed through the social networking sites. The commission needs to provide a contribution for the citizen journalism in order to be able to lead a fair and transparent process and be assisted by the citizens. In Afghanistan’s politics, crises happen unexpectedly and quickly. And if happens, as proved in the past, it would be hard to manage it. We have the previous elections as example and a bitter lesion to learn from. And it is the young generation who is truly scrutinizing the unruly politics in Afghanistan and makes it to some level accountable.
President Karzai should be praised for his handling of freedom of expression. He needs to continue his role in the offering a voice for the young generation of Afghans. Success of the country’s ongoing trend of public monitoring of the elections will help survival of the country’s political establishment and President Karzai’s legacy. Currently the quiet and tranquil process of vote tallying is in part assured by close monitoring of the independent media and the citizen journalism.