Tuesday, September 21, 2004

How Afghanistan Practice Their First Presidential Election?

Many of our focus might be swift to Iraq when US waged the war on March 20, 2003. However Afghanistan as the first "victim" of the war against terror seems manage to practice the democracy after the war. Is that a consolation prize for the Afghan? Even the developed area like Hong Kong still struggle for the universal suffrage for the Chief Executive post.

No matter you like it or not, on 9 October Afghans will choose from 18 presidential candidates in some 25,000 polling stations across the country. The campaign is running now and different deals were taken in the country.

That is not all - Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries will be also casting their ballots. This is the historical, significant and meaningful event for the civilization of the world.

All of us will ask, how they are going to cast their vote under such critical security? Such security challenge really make many of us suspicious how the democracy can be practiced? Any here are some data that may help us to see how the Afghan cast their vote:

1. Cartoons and posters will illustrate voting procedures to a largely illiterate population.

2. The ballot papers, printed in Canada, will contain photographs, names and symbols of all the candidates to make it easier for the voters to identify their choice.

3. There will be separate polling stations for men and women.

4. A big challenge is to find enough men and women to staff voting centres in a country where literacy is low.

5. Bringing the 30,000 ballot boxes, built in Denmark, to the counting centres after the end of the voting will be another daunting exercise - an average of 3,000 ballot boxes will be moved to each centre.

6. Election logistics are also a considerable challenge in the country that has few good roads.

Despite the challenges of the election, the people expression is important. The self-determination of the Afghan have to be respected by the international institution especially the US and its allies. The war against Taleban or even Al-Qaeda can't legitimise the unjust war on terror.

For your information, one of the ASA close friends, Mabel Au now is in Afghanistan as the International Election Observer, organized by the ANFREL. All the best to her and greetings of peace from the ASA.