Tuesday, 04 October 2011
Message from the Chairman
Last year’s election was Afghanistan’s most difficult yet. Campaign season saw violence, coercion and fraud on an unprecedented scale. Candidates and campaign staff were abducted, beaten and murdered.
Voters and election workers were systematically terrorized by insurgent groups and powerful warlords. Yet, those groups and individuals who sought to shut down the elections in most
Cases failed and despite all this, Afghans once more demonstrated willingness and desire to pursue a democratic path.
Young candidates reached out to voters through mobile technology, grassroots campaigns and public debates. Hundreds of women candidates braved an onslaught of harassment. Thousands of election workers awoke to find threatening letters posted at night by insurgents and continued working anyway. Week after week, non-governmental observers, including those from FEFA’s network, reported abuses of power and crimes against civilians, continuing their important task despite escalating violence.
On September 18, 2010, the people of Afghanistan voted for their second parliament. Some of them paid for the chance to choose their representatives in time spent traveling and standing in long lines outside polling centers. Others paid with their lives.
We at FEFA stand in solidarity with the families of the dozens of civilians who were killed for their participation in the elections and share their desire to see the perpetrators of political violence brought to justice.
Afghans are under no illusions about how far their country has to go. But, as one citizen put it to FEFA while passing on information about coercion of voters in his province last year, “if we have better elections, we will have a better society and my fate is tied to this society.”
The Afghan government and its international partners can choose one of two very different paths from this point forward.
They can begin reforming the broken electoral system now or they can watch Afghanistan’s fragile democracy erode to the point of irreparability before the next round of elections.
We urge all parties to choose the former path before it is too late...