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Afghan's Female Candidates Urge Kabul To Ensure Fair Elections


Candidate Nima Suratgar, campaigns in Kabul.

Candidate Nima Suratgar, campaigns in Kabul.

Women running for seats in the Afghan parliament have called on the government to prevent electoral fraud and corruption less than one week before nationwide elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Fatima Nazari, who is running for reelection to the National Assembly, told RFE/RL on September 13 that she has warned Afghan officials that corruption could do great damage to the legitimacy of the elections, to be held on September 18.

"Concrete steps must be taken towards preventing the illegal use of money or else we risk having illegitimate elections," she said.

Noting the complaints of many other candidates, Nazari said a "money mafia" is spoiling the environment needed to conduct fair elections.

Many candidates give money to impoverished voters to secure their support in elections in Afghanistan.

Afghan women generally have far fewer financial resources than men, and a lack of funds is considered one of the main obstacles to female candidates.

"[Men] have connections to different political parties and factions, and receive financial support, but women generally lack those privileges," said a parliament candidate from eastern Nengarhar Province who requested anonymity. "[Women] also either have to ask the brother or husband of another male member of the family for permission to do things, even if she wants to invite her friends for a simple discussion. We are not independent."

But Anarkali Honaryar, a parliament candidate from Kabul who represents the country's Sikh and Hindu minority, told RFE/RL that being intelligent and confident while campaigning is the most important way to win voters and defeat candidates who might have more money.

"I didn't give out any money to voters and yet a large number of them are showing support for me and I believe they will vote for me," Honaryar told RFE/RL. "They support me because of my policies and what kind of person I am, not because of money."

In Afghanistan's 2005 parliamentary elections, 28 percent of the seats went to women. The consitution mandates that at least 25 percent of the members of parliament have to be women.
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