Afghanistan: Hopeful post elections
The Afghan people are optimistic about the country's future following last week’s elections, says a BMS World Mission worker there
Mohammed* decided to get up early to vote in the Afghanistan elections. A
gatekeeper working with BMS personnel in Kabul, he did not want to be away from work for too long. His decision paid off. When he arrived at the polling station shortly after 7.30 am there were only 20 people waiting to vote ahead of him. When he left the polling station there was a queue of over 400 people.
The experience of Mohammed was replicated across the country. Thousands flocked to vote in the elections held on 5 April and had been attending election rallies beforehand to hear some of the presidential candidates.
'There has been a real interest among the Afghan people for this election,' says BMS worker Adam. 'They weren’t as interested at the last election as everyone assumed Hamid Karzai would get in again as president. But this time there has been a choice, someone other than Karzai will become president and so people have been turning out in very large numbers.'
There are eight candidates running for President with Adullah Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani and Zalmai Rassoul the front runners to win. Provincial elections were also held on 5 April with numerous candidates to choose from. Adam saw a ballot sheet that was four pages long and had over 400 names on it. With a first past the post system being used, Afghans had to choose just one person from the ballot paper to represent them.
The economy and education, particularly for girls, have been election issues as has the security situation. Ensuring peace has been the responsibility of the International Security Assistance Force in recent years but they are due to pull out of the country by the end of 2014, passing on their role to the Afghan National Security Forces.
Despite this time of change and uncertainty, Afghans are hopeful about their future. 'The people I have spoken to have been holding out an awful lot of hope for these elections,' said Adam. 'Nobody knows as yet who is going to prevail in the polls but there’s an optimism that the future is going to be good.'
Initial results from the elections are due to be announced on 24 April with the final announcement on 14 May. If there is no clear winner of the presidential election there will be a run-off vote on 28 May.
So far the elections have passed off peacefully and have not affected BMS’ work too much but personnel are exercising caution until things become clearer.
'We recognise there is a security issue and we have to bear that in mind when we are doing our work,' says Adam.
'We’re reaching many people with the development work that we do here. In 2013 we reached more people than we have ever reached before. I’m quite positive about the future.'
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This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission