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"Why should I vote? I love my fingers."


Election workers count votes at a polling station in Kabul, 21Aug2009

Election workers count votes at a polling station in Kabul, 21Aug2009

As the polls were closing in Afghanistan last night, we hosted a briefing featuring the director of our Afghan service, Akbar Ayazi, and our senior Afghanistan analyst, Abubakar Siddique. They gave a first-hand account of what had happened throughout the day.

Ayazi: "One of my reporters went to talk to the common men on the street. He asked them why they're not voting. They said, why should I vote? I love my fingers."

Siddique: "This election was a considerable blow to the Taliban because they were, after all, unable to stop the election from going forward. People clearly defied their threats and went out and went to polling, in very dangerous circumstances."

..."One thing is very clear to the Taliban is that they are not winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan. If you look at recent opinion surveys -- they are the most hated group inside the country...they are largely seen in Afghanistan as agents of the foreigners, as agents of the Arabs and maybe also the Pakistanis, because a lot of these groups are now essentially headquartered there."

Here is a full transcript of the briefing.

The briefing was conducted via teleconference. Akbar joined the call from Kabul, Abubakar was on the line from our Prague headquarters. Around 50 people participated from Washington and around the world. If you'd like to join us next time, send a note to communications@rferl.org

-- Julian Knapp
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