Post-election challenges for civil society in Afghanistan

16 October 2009

Ambassador Fransesc Vendrell, former EU-Special Representative for Afghanistan, said there had been many shortcomings in the country’s political reconstruction, and the international community should have helped improve electoral security and taken measures that would have cut down on the election fraud. It should now support an emergency administration and a government of national unity until joint Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2010. The country has a year to cut down on corruption and improve the rule of law, otherwise Afghans will lose hope and the EU public become uneasy about risking soldiers to support a discredited regime.

Nasrine Gross, founder of the Roqia Center of Women’s Rights, Studies and Education in Afghanistan, felt the elections were a “catastrophic failure” for humanity, as the level of fraud was up to 80% in some places and Afghanis felt their rights had been trampled on. Groups of Mujahedeen must be encouraged to give up their arms and join the political process with other political parties in Afghanistan, which must also include women.

Thomas Rutting, Co-Director for the Afghanistan Analysts Network said these elections marked a cross-road for Afghanistan: they could have marked a move to democracy, but sadly they undermined trust and created cynicism about building democracy. As the Taliban is rooted in large parts of the country, they could be brought into the political process, along with other democratic forces. One positive move would be to hold an international conference that hears all viewpoints, including civil society.

Fatima Ayub, Policy and Advisory Officer for South Asia, Open Society Institute, said the Afghanis expect to have a ‘social contract’ with their government, whereby it works for them in return for their loyalty, but the fraudulent elections have broken this. Now the international community should hand back responsibility to the government to promote stability and rebuild the country, and to educate young people who are the country’s future leaders