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Afghanistan – good news at last

11 October 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader
Afghanistan – good news at last

The arrival of democratic elections for the men and women of Afghanistan is a rare piece of good news in a nation which for decades has too often only generated tragic news stories, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

"It is a great day for a society when its people are trusted and respected enough by their rulers to be given a say in their own government.

"From the first vote cast, by a young woman in a refugee camp in Pakistan, to the millions that followed, what we all witnessed was a progressive step forward away from the reaction, oppression and failure of the past," Matt Robson said. He said the fact that there is disagreement between candidates over aspects of the election process merely highlights how far Afghanistan has come.
"Afghanistan, like America four years ago, is now engaged in a debate about how fair the actual election was.

"It is a debate that is a million miles away from when the Taleban ran the show. Then, there was never any debate about whether an election was fair, mainly fair or flawed. In the dark old days, no one ever asked Afghanis for their views in a secret ballot election because the place was run by a reactionary, feudal tyranny," the Progressive MP said.

The largest group of independent election observers, the Free and Fair Election Foundations of Afghanistan, is reported to have concluded that the vote for President over the weekend was fair, but far from perfect. The election came just three years after the international community removed the Taliban dictatorship in Afghanistan for harbouring Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The participation of millions of female voters is noted by observers as a particularly significant achievement. Last week, international human rights group, Human Rights Watch, issued a report documenting widespread intimidation of women and said general insecurity threatened women's right to vote freely in the October 9 presidential elections.


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