ANALYSIS: Why the Afghan elections matter — Bruce Riedel
Daily Times, August 30m 2009
More democracy — not less — is a good thing in this war. A new government in Kabul, even if it still has Karzai as President but with a credible popular mandate earned in a credible election fight, can be the basis for changing the momentum in this conflict
Afghanistan’s Presidential election is still a work in progress but its implications will be enormous. President Barack Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan needs a legitimate and credible outcome from this election in order to build support for what is now America’s longest war both at home and abroad. The NATO mission in Afghanistan needs an Afghan partner who has the support of the Afghan people and can provide the decent governance that is essential to fighting an insurgency. War weariness is gaining ground in America and Europe, a flawed election would only add to discontent. So the stakes are unusually high in only the third election ever in the country’s history.
The preliminary results released on the Afghan elections so far are too small (only 17 percent of the polling places) to mean much. The claims of victory by the contenders, including incumbent President Hamid Karzai (a Pashtun) and his main challenger former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah (a Tajik), should also be given little attention; they are just spin. Charges of fraud and vote tampering need to be investigated thoroughly. Final results are not expected until next month and they will provide much more insight into the status of the war. In many ways they will be the best metrics on how the war is going.
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Afghan vote fraud claims gather momentum - AFP
Change in Afghanistan must come from within - Guardian