Thursday, October 14, 2004


Afghan elections

The Afghan elections were pretty interesting. I was very happy to see no reports of violence against voters, I must say, and in that, at least, it could be qualified as a "success." Glenn Reynolds certainly thinks so, asserting that:
[T]hat is what it was: a success, no matter how hard the international media tried to spin it. There were no car bombs raining body parts all over the polling stations; there were no last-minute assassinations; there were no drive-by shootings.
But I honestly find that a pretty minimal standard as to how one considers an election a "success" and matters are still developing. The vote was obviously frustrated by the chaos that existed before the actual election, with violence and fraud rampant in the process of preparing for a national election. And while it is doubtful that the winner of the presidential election will be strongly disputed, that does not mean that it will not affect the outcome in Afghanistan. Indeed, in the Independent, Nick Meo reports that there is concern that those candidates who are now withdrawing their complaints over the election are doing so because of the deals they are getting from Hamid Karzai, the probable winner of the election. One group, Afghanistan Justice Project, a US-based human rights group, has released a report reflecting this concern:
Patricia Gossman, the report's researcher and author, said: "The new government's appointments must be scrutinised. There must be proper accountability ... At the moment there is no vetting process.

"We are particularly worried that the controversy over ink marks on voters' fingers in the election will mean deals have been done where candidates' complaints are dropped in exchange for appointments."
The concern of Afghanistan Justice Project is, in particular, the unsavory records of many of the potential appointees in the new Afghan government. Indeed:
Men with bloody records from years of conflict will become judges, police chiefs and government ministers unless their appointments are blocked by presidential decree, according to a report by Afghanistan Justice Project.
Hamid Karzai may need to include such figures in his government so as not to face instant instability and insurrection against the new Afghan government. The Independent lists the following suspect individuals who could well end up in positions of influence after all is said and done:

Mohammed Fahim
A Northern Alliance leader. His forces are accused of summary executions and rapes in Kabul in 1993

Abdul Rasul Sayyaff

Radical Islamist who opposed the Taliban. His forces, accused of civil war atrocities, are serving in Kabul's 10th division

Yunus Qanooni

Presidential candidate linked to Northern Alliance warlords, but there are no claims he was involved in atrocities

Abdul Rashid Dostum

Warlord who ended election boycott yesterday. His militias are accused of rape and murdering Taliban prisoners

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