Afghanistan takes what is hoped will be another major step towards stability and democracy with parliamentary elections on Sunday. Millions of Afghans are expected to vote in the ballot which is also to elect provincial councils. Hundreds of women have registered as candidates despite threats from warlords and former members of the ousted Taliban regime. One woman in the streets of Kabul said: “We have suffered a lot. We had to live outside our country.”
“I’ve decided to vote for a woman candidate,” said a male passer-by. “When you vote for men in Afghanistan they only work in their own interests,” he added. The vote is taking place almost a year after Hamid Karzai was elected president. This election promises to be much more complex with nearly 6,000 candidates involved. Election officials have been out in the streets trying to educate people about the voting system.
Security concerns are another factor as fighting continues with the remnants of Taliban forces in the east of the country. Analysts say the vote is likely to produce a fragmented and conservative parliament but one which is essential to Afganistan’s transition to democracy.