[Mb-civic] Monitors sound Afghan poll alert BBC

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Mon Sep 6 10:45:15 PDT 2004

 Monitors sound Afghan poll alert
 Afghanistan's October presidential elections are threatened by insecurity
and intimidation, a new report says.

 The UN and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission say a lack
of information about democracy is making voters vulnerable to manipulation.

 Even the most basic conditions for a democratic vote are in danger of not
being met, says the report, which follows a wave of militant attacks.

 President Hamid Karzai is seeking a popular mandate in the landmark vote.

 The election is a key exercise in introducing democracy in Afghanistan
following the fall of the Taleban in 2001.

 President Karzai is the favourite but faces a challenge from several
candidates, including one woman.

 Sima Samar, the chairwoman of the Afghan Human Rights Commission, told the
BBC that many people did not understand their rights under the secret

 Fear of insecurity

 She said powerful individuals were intimidating voters and candidates, and
some political parties were refusing to disclose their programmes for fear
of reprisals.

 The control of local warlords over communities "has the potential to
distort the free expression of popular will", the report said.

 We don't expect a 100% free and fair election but... at least if it is 60%
free and fair we will be satisfied
  Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chairwoman Sima Samar
 Another serious issue highlighted by the report is "insecurity in those
areas where extremist groups are bent on undermining, by violent means, a
political process that they fear".

 These shortcomings "must be addressed in the coming weeks if the election
is to realise its democratic potential", the report said.

 The Taleban and other Islamic militants have vowed to disrupt the polls.

 Last week, at least six people including three Americans were killed in a
massive bomb explosion outside the offices of an American security firm in

 Last week, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a top
international election watchdog, said Afghanistan was not safe for
"meaningful" monitoring.
 Story from BBC NEWS:

 Published: 2004/09/06 09:40:30 GMT


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