Mahmoud Saikal | August 14
NEXT Thursday's presidential and provincial elections in Afghanistan have the potential to strengthen the nation's democratic institutions, provide a fresh mandate for the fight against terrorism and extremism, and help improve the living conditions of Afghans.
Moreover, judging from the large and enthusiastic crowds at the leading candidates' election rallies, the elections may bring to office a new president, a new government and younger provincial members.
Although a US-funded survey released this week shows the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai, has 36per cent support among voters, some of his rivals, in particular former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, are gaining ground and there is the strong possibility of a run-off, especially if local strongmen are unable to mobilise blocs of supporters in favour of the status quo.
Yet, far from being destabilising, a change, if handled wisely by the Afghan elite and its international partners, would strengthen democracy. Unfortunately, there are signs that opponents of the election are determined to disrupt it. Read more here ...
Mahmoud Saikal has served as Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister (2005-06) and ambassador to Australia (2002-05). He is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University's Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy. This article reflects his personal views.
Source: The Australian