A few weeks ago it seemed like Afghanistan’s main candidates for president, the incumbent Hamid Karzai and his former foreign minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, were locked in a dead heat, running side by side toward that coveted post; to govern a country rocked by economic troubles and war.
But now, just two days before the election, Karzai has emerged as the unquestioned front-runner and will seemingly sprint back into his governing chair, a seat in which he will remain for another five years.
On Monday 10,000 supporters rallied at Ghazi stadium in Kabul, wearing blue caps, waving blue flags, holding signs depicting the Abdullah’s smiling visage. But despite the doctor’s prominence and reputation, despite his reformist ideals and want for change, he will lose.
As much as his campaign’s support parallels that of Iran’s Mir Hossein Mousavi, unlike Mousavi, this candidate has no chance of winning (neither did Mousavi, if you think about it).
Karzai will be back.
Polling day violence
What the people must worry about now, besides being ruled by Karzai for another five years, is what will happen on August 20th. Violence at the polling stations is almost a certainty, especially now that the Taliban has vowed to disrupt the voting process.
“The election is propaganda from America and its allies,” said the Taliban in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.
On Tuesday, Kabul was hit by a blast that killed seven. It is highly likely that Thursday will see much of the same type of blasts scattered across the highly vulnerable country.
Voter turnout is already expected to be low, according to a local Afghan man interviewed by Al Jazeera. He told the interviewer that he was afraid to go out and vote because of what the Taliban had promised. He knows what they are capable of, he said.
We all know.
Unfortunately, even from the beginning, these elections looked bleak. None of the candidates offer any real solutions to any of the country’s most dire issues. Also, the Afghanistan itself is not stable enough to hold a proper democratic election for two reasons: because the country is so often bombed by the Taliban that setting up secure, safe polling stations is not a reality, and because the parties involved have a history of engaging in bribery and intimidation tactics to gain desirable results.
According to several news outlets, entire villages have been threatened with violence if their population refuses to vote for a certain candidate.
Of course, internationally we are all hoping for at least one peaceful, democratic election to be completed in the Mid-East in the near future.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the one we should look to to satisfy that want.