Warlords Browbeat Voters in Northern Afghanistan

Many civil society activists have expressed serious concern over the threats issued by warlords to vote only for their preferred candidate.
 
Even as Afghanistan gears up for the historic Presidential elections on April 5th, 2014, a number of civil society organizations and activists in northern Afghanistan have expressed concern over the alarmingly low level of awareness about the electoral process among people here.

Activists are also concerned over the abysmal level of awareness regarding electoral process among women in northern Afghan provinces

Security challenges and unfavorable environment for women’s participation in electoral process are other grave problems likely to affect the outcome of elections, believe activists here.
 
Many activists have expressed concern over the threats issued by warlords to vote only for their preferred candidate. Beefing up the security, cracking down on warlords are some of the key demands raised by activists. If these demands are not met, there would be questions over the credibility of elections, they believe.
 
Raz Mohammad Dalili, a prominent activist in northern Afghanistan, says there is a sense of fear among people because of the threats issued by certain warlords who exert tremendous clout and influence in the area.    
 
Mr Dalili has urged the government to ensure security and safety of voters during elections.  
 
Anisa Waseq, a member of civil society in Samangan province, lists the lack of security, electoral fraud and influence of warlords as important factors that can thwart the efforts of government to have free and fair elections.     
 
Activists are also concerned over the abysmal level of awareness regarding electoral process among women in northern Afghan provinces, besides coercion and intimidation from their spouses to vote for their favorite candidate.
 
“Patriarchy still exists in Afghan society; the women are coerced and intimidated by their partners to vote only for the candidate he likes or prefers,” Mitra Moqadib, a civil society member in Balkh province, told Afghan Zariza.
    
The inclement weather in some parts of the country is also likely to dampen the spirit of voters, and might possibly affect the voting percentage in elections.
 
Arezo Sadat, a member of civil society in Badakhshan province, says a large number of people live in far-flung areas where weather conditions do not allow people to cover long distance, and polling booths are at long distance.
    
Ajmal Ahadi, the deputy chief of Independent Election Commission (IEC) regional office in Balkh has called on the security forces to maintain tight security during the elections. “Some polling stations situated in the remote areas face multiple security threats,” he said.

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