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Afghanistan - Parlamentsvalg 2005

AFGHANISTAN: Policies in short supply as election campaigning begins

IRINnews.org, 17. august 2005

Her en måned før Afghanistans utroligt spændende parlaments- og regionalvalg, er det svært at identificere den enkelte kandidaters politik, som stort set ikke omfatter andet end slagord. Men valgkampen er nu indledt, og de omkring 6.000 kandidater har mulighed for at udnytte landets mere end 70 radio- og TV-stationer til at sprede deres budskaber.

Lots of candidates but few policies - ©  IRIN
KABUL, 17 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Sitting in a printing house in a dusty Kabul street, Ghani Mohamad, a 45-year-old candidate in Afghanistan's first democratic parliamentary elections next month, is about to launch his campaign. He's pondering what to put on his campaign poster that would capture the electorate's attention as campaigning began officially on Wednesday.

But like many of the 6,000 candidates eager to be elected to the lower house of parliament and provincial councils, he's scratching his head to think of an appropriate message that will win the heart and minds of voters on 18 September in a country very new to elections, political parties and manifestoes.

In desperation he was forced to consult the printer for ideas: "What would be an attractive message to put on my poster?" he asked the teenage layout designer at the shop. "Why don't you say, 'I will secure Afghanistan's borders' or 'I will work for a fair and just Afghanistan'?" replied the youth.

With campaigning now officially underway, candidates from this week will now be able to access more than 70 radio and television stations to spread their messages to the nation. The media campaign will last for about a month.

"We have already put in place a mechanism to ensure equal media coverage for all the candidates," Bissmillah Bissmil, chairman of the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) said.

According to the JEMB - a joint UN and Afghan government body -each candidate for the national legislature will be allocated a five minute spot to be broadcast twice on radio or two minutes to be broadcast twice on television.

To monitor the coverage of the electoral campaign by the mass media, electoral bodies have composed a media commission comprising five national and international members.

"The media commission will monitor fair reporting and coverage of the electoral campaign period and will deal with any complaints concerning breaches of the media code of conduct," Bissmil said.

A look at some of the candidates' election campaigns suggest many have little knowledge of what a parliament is expected to do. One candidate interviewed by IRIN confessed he had no idea what his job would be if elected and was vague about the notion of a politician as a responsible public servant.

Other candidates interviewed also appear to go no further than sloganeering, with not substantive policies to back up their campaigns. Unsurprising perhaps in a nation emerging from three decades of war and totalitarianism.

This hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of more than 400 people in Kabul who have put themselves up election. Their faces adorn thousands of poster pasted or tied on to walls, cars, sign boards, shops and road signs, brightening up the drab streets of the capital.

According to the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), busy training political parties and independent candidates in the art of electioneering, even the established political parties lack substantive policies.

"We have found in our trainings and working with independent candidates that they really lack the understanding of the duties of a member of parliament and the greater problem is they don't have an idea of what a Wolesi Jirga [lower house of parliament] is supposed to do," Peter Dimitroff, country director of NDI, said in Kabul.

"It's all very well having a slogan like 'Building a Fair and Just Afghanistan' but candidates have to take much more time to make voters understand what is going to happen at the local level if they are elected," he said.

According to the NDI, only 12 -15 percent of all candidates are affiliated with one of the 70 registered political parities, the rest are all independent candidates. Because party affiliation is not indicated on ballot papers, making an informed choice will be tough for voters, observers say.

"The candidates should think about their messages and practical policies, not just some brand announcements about freedom and democracy," said an Afghan analyst, on condition of anonymity.

"I think we as voters want candidates to address very local problems for example, get the roads of Kabul fixed, ensure security for women on the streets and other very local issues," one man on the streets of the capital said, bewildered by the sea of election posters before him.

According to the JEMB, of the 2,900 people who have already registered to run for the 249-seat parliament, nearly 350 are women. Afghan electoral law requires that at least 68 seats in the general assembly be reserved for women.

But many female candidates have suffered intimidation and physical violence, particularly in rural areas where women are often not allowed out of their homes unaccompanied.

On Wednesday, the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Kabul and international organisations involved in the poll to take special measures to protect women from attacks and intimidation by the Taliban and powerful regional warlords.

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 3.10.2005