Deutsche Welle, October 22, 2010

Warlords to run the Wolesi Jirga all over again

Many had said even before the elections took place that they did not have any faith in Afghanistan's supposedly 'Independent' Election Commission (IEC)

Five weeks after the elections took place the results of the Afghan elections are out. Although they are only preliminary results, they clearly show who the winners and losers are. Ratbil Shamel has this opinion piece:

A poster of Sayyaf in Kabul which has been attacked by red color
An election poster of Sayyaf in Kabul. Afghans express their anger to criminal candidates by throwing red color on their election posters. (Photo: RAWA)

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Now the secret, which never was one, is out. The Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s lower house, will continue to be run by the country’s warlords over the next five years. Former mujahedin leaders and their allies have won in almost all the constituencies. Even in Kabul, a city which at the beginning of the 1990s was almost completely destroyed by the battles between the various mujahedin groupings, the picture is the same.

Hardly anybody in Afghanistan is surprised by the results. Many had said even before the elections took place that they did not have any faith in Afghanistan's supposedly 'Independent' Election Commission (IEC). And the fact that certain sections of the Afghan population still went to vote has another explanation - they wanted to show that they, at least, take democracy seriously. They went to the polls because they wanted to tell the world: "we Afghans reject war, the Taliban and extremism". Many Afghans perhaps don’t really know what democracy means or how a parliament functions but one thing that they know for sure is that a peaceful struggle is better than war. And the people in Afghanistan have been experiencing war for over 30 years.

Yet hardly anyone is deluded enough to think that his/her vote makes a difference. Despite three elections in the past nine years, their lives have not improved for the better. On the contrary. The Taliban are getting stronger and stronger by the day, while the government is becoming weaker. And they know that the new parliament will not change much.

The erstwhile leaders of the mujahedin will certainly not fight for democratic reforms in the future. Their goal is clear - to strengthen their own position of power in the country. This power will increase the more the international community pulls out of Afghanistan. Some observers believe it will become increasingly difficult for President Hamid Karzai to govern but the opposite will be true. Karzai has long been counting on the mujahedin card. His two deputies were chosen out of these ranks last year, despite national and international criticism.

But the real losers of this election, far more than Hamid Karzai, are the small democratic groupings in Afghanistan. In the past nine years, they have not managed to unite over a few common goals. Instead, they have founded countless political parties that carry no weight in Afghanistan’s power struggle. They fielded hundreds of candidates this time but will have to wake up to the fact that they have lost, again.

A further loser in these elections is the international community, especially the West. Democracy, peace and well-being were promised to the people of Afghanistan almost a decade ago. But the Taliban and former warlords continue to determine the lives of the Afghans. Afghanistan cannot be left to the Taliban and the warlords again. The consequences of such a policy are clear to everybody – instability for the region and the world.

Author: Ratbil Ahang Shamel

Editor: Grahame Lucas

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