04/04/2014, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Afghan elections remain "unpredictable," but without education nothing will change

A local source, anonymous for security reasons, talk to AsiaNews about the upcoming presidential poll. Amid a tense atmosphere caused by several Taliban attacks and tighter government security, people want "schools, hospitals, and prosperity for all".

Kabul (AsiaNews) - Tensions are running high in Kabul and across Afghanistan as voters are getting ready to cast their ballot tomorrow for a new president, this according to a source, anonymous for security reasons.

"We should not expect big changes," he told AsiaNews. "Unless the foundations of democracy are laid, starting with education, whoever is elected will not bring anything good. If people are not educated about their responsibilities, rights and duties, what prospects can this country have?"

In the latest registration drive, some 3.8 million voters have been added to the voters list (2.4 million men and 1.3 million women) in order to choose from a list of eight candidates.

No one is a clear favourite, but the race is between three main candidates: Abdullah Abdullah (National Coalition of Afghanistan, Islamic democracy), Zalmai Rassoul (Independent) and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (Independent). The first two are former Foreign Affairs ministers, the third a former Finance minister.

Unless one of them gets 50 per cent in the first round, a runoff election between the top two is scheduled for 28 May.

In recent weeks, the Taliban have carried out several attacks, and the government has tightened security and deployed 200,000 soldiers to protect polling stations.

"Across the country," the source told AsiaNews, "extreme caution is recommended until the day after tomorrow. In the city, the climate is tense, but the government has done a good job in imposing strict controls."

However, figuring out what the Afghan people want from this vote will be hard, the source told AsiaNews.

"Islamic fatalism pervades people's life. There are no dynamic social forces. I am not talking about revolutionaries, but rather political groups who could understand the problems of ordinary people; calm, well-behaved and yet strong and decisive people who could speak on their behalf and push for certain actions."

What is more, "one thing must be clear: Kabul is not Afghanistan, it does not reflect villagers living in the north".

People hope "to see first of all a winner who is honest; someone who could be the president of all Afghans. This means a leader who goes into the crowd, tries to find out about their problems first hand rather hear them from his advisers." However, this "is a bit utopic."

"A few days ago, I invited a friend to watch a football game on television. He lost a leg when he stepped on a mine, playing football."

"Before the match, a satellite TV channel broadcast a documentary about a recreation centre for kids, showing swimming pools, horse riding and playing. My friend burst into tears saying, 'Here, we have nothing for our children."

"To see this parent's reaction was shocking," he said. "Because ultimately these people want something more: schools, hospitals, and prosperity for all; or at least for most."

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