Afghanistan - 09 October 2004 Presidential Election
|Haji Mohammed Mohaqqeq||935,325||11.66%|
|Abdul Rashid Dostum||804,861||10.03%|
|Abdul Latif Pedram||110,160||1.37%|
|Ahmad Shah Admadzai||60,199||0.75%|
By 15 February 2004, only 8 percent of eligible voters had been recorded on voter lists, and civilian and military casualty tolls mounted by the day as a result of violent unrest in all parts of the country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration maintained its determination to adhere to the existing election timetable by planning a massive voter-registration drive. Afghanistan's tenuous security environment continued to threaten the election, particularly as a major government initiative to improve security, a UN-sponsored disarmament program, struggles to fulfill its aims. The authority of Karzai's administration does not extend far beyond Kabul, and warlords remain in firm control of many parts of the country, while Taliban insurgents moved to fill the power vacuum in contested areas.
In March 2004, President Hamid Karzai postponed Afghanistan's first post-Taliban elections, originally scheduled in June, to September 2004. At the conclusion of an international summit in Berlin on March 31st, Afghanistan secured $8.2 billion in aid over the next three years. Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani said $4.4 billion in aid had been promised for the year 2004 alone, adding that $1 billion a year of the aid money would be spent on enhancing security in Afghanistan. The biggest contributor was the United States, which has offered $1 billion in addition to the $1.2 billion it had already committed for this year. The promised aid at the conference fell short of the Afghan government's hopes.
Voter registration efforts accelerated in May, with nearly 1 million new voters registered, bringing the overall number to 2.7 million registered voters out of a total of 10 million eligible citizens. Government officials expect the election process to receive a boost from the US-led coalition's deployment of 10 Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the south, southeast and east of Afghanistan by the end of July. On 27 May 2004 President Karzai signed a new election law, the first of the postwar period, guaranteeing a single vote to every citizen age 18 and over, and stating that the presidential candidate will win by a simple majority. The UN-backed Joint Electoral Management Body announced its final list on 27 July of candidates registered to compete in October's presidential election, Afghanistan Television reported. The list of 23 individuals was comprised of 19 independents and four candidates representing specific political parties or coalitions.
- Mohammad Mohaqeq His running mate was Nasir Ahmad Ensaf; his second running mate was Abdul Fayaz Mehrayin. While Mohaqeq was a leader of the Wahdat party, he was listed as an independent candidate.
- Mir Abu Taleb Kazemi He had not announced his running mates. Independent candidate
- Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai His first running mate was Obaydullah Obayd; his second running mate was Abdul Manan Oruzgani. Ahamdzai was a member of the Harakat-e Enqelab-e Eslami party, but was listed as an independent candidate.
- Abdul Hakim Zazai He had not announced his running mates. Independent candidate.
- Abdul Latif Pedram. His first running mate was Haji Ahmad Niro; his second running mate was Mohammad Qasem Masumi. [According to a report by Bakhtar Information Agency, Pedram's running mates are Mohammad Qasem Masumi and Ahmad Munir.] Pedram was the candidate of the Afghan National Congress Party.
- Gholam Faruq Nejrabi His first running mate was Abdul Fatah; his second running mate was Abdul Hanan. Nejrabi was the candidate of the Afghan Independence Party.
- Abdul Hafez Mansur. His first running mate was Sayyed Mohammad Eqbal Munib; his second running mate was Mohammad Ayyub Qasemi. Masur was a member of Jam'iat-e Islami party but was listed as an independent candidate.
- Abdul Sattar Sirat. His first running mate was Qazi Mohammad Amin Weqad; his second running mate was Abdul Qader Emami. Independent candidate.
- Masuda Jalal. Her first running mate was Mir Habib Sohaili; her second running mate was Sayyed Mohammad Alem Amini. Independent candidate. The only female presidential hopeful.
- Abdul Hadi Khalilzai His first running mate was Khodai Nur Mandokhel; his second running mate was Khoda Dad Erfani. Independent candidate.
- Abdul Rashid Dostum His first running mate was Shafiqa Habibi; his second running mate was Mostafa Kamal Makhdum. Dostum was the head of Junbish-e Melli-ye Islami party but was listed as an independent candidate.
- Sayyed Eshaq Gelani His first running mate was Mohammad Esma'il Qasemyar; his second running mate was Barialay Nasrati. Gailani is the candidate of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.
- Hamid Karzai. His first running mate was Ahmad Zia Mas'ud; his second running mate was Mohammad Karim Khalili. Independent candidate.
- Mohammad Mahfuz Nedayi His first running mate was Sayyed Mohammad Aref Ebrahimkhayl; his second running mate was Mohammad Hakim Karimi. Independent candidate.
- Wakil Mangal. His first running mate was Mohammad Yunos Moghol; his second running mate was Dina Gol. Independent candidate.
- Sayyed Abdul Hadi Dabir His first running mate was Abdul Rashid; his second running mate was Dad Mohammad Khan. Independent candidate.
- Abdul Hasib Aryan. His first running mate was Del Aqa Shekayb; his second running mate was Sayyed Mohammad Zaman Ahmadyar. Independent candidate.
- Homayun Shah Asefi. His first running mate was Mohammad Hashem Esmatullah; his second running mate was Tajwar Kakar. Independent candidate.
- Safdar Sadeqi Yakawlangi. His first running mate was Hayatillah Abed; his second running mate was Mohamamd Ebrahim. Independent candidate.
- Mohammad Halim Tanwir His first running mate was Jamil al-Rahman Kamgar. His second running mate has not been announced. Independent candidate.
- Mohammad Ebrahim Rashid. His first running mate was Sayyed Mohammad Hadi Hadi; his second running mate was Hamid Taheri. Independent candidate.
- Mohammad Yunos Qanuni. His first running mate was Taj Mohammad Wardak; his second running mate was Sayyed Hosayn Alemi Balkhi. Qanuni was the candidate of the Afghan National Movement.
- Khoshhal Yasini His running mates had not been announced. Independent candidate.
The list of independents included Karzai, who was not affiliated with any political party, and General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the head of the powerful Junbish-e Melli-e Islami-ye Afghanistan, which was backed by its own military units. Attacks on voter-registration sites continue throughout the country as Neo-Taliban elements vowed to disrupt the upcoming Afghan elections. President Karzai commented in a July 12th interview with the New York Times that Afghanistan's warlord armies, not Taliban insurgents, posed the greatest risk to his country's security. Previously, attacks on aid workers and election officials staged by suspected neo-Taliban guerillas worried the fledgling government in Kabul. But Karzai put dangers posed by militias first, saying they threaten to hamper progress toward nationwide presidential elections scheduled for 9 October. Just 10,000 of Afghanistan's estimated 60,000 fighters have been disarmed, and disarmament efforts led by the United Nations have recently slowed.
On 28 July 2004, Brussels-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced that it was closing all of its medical program in Afghanistan amid a rising number of ambushes on humanitarian workers in the country. The MSF took the decision to withdraw after five of its staff members were killed in June. Such "targeted killing" of MSF aid workers "is unprecedented" in the history of the organization, the statement added. According to MSF, while the Afghan administration presented "credible evidence that local commanders conducted the attack," it "neither detained nor publicly called for their arrest." The statement added that the "lack of government response to the killings represents a failure of responsibility and an inadequate commitment to the safety of aid workers on its soil."
After delays from the original timetable agreed at the Bonn Conference, On 9 October 2004, Afghanistan, with the help of the UN, held presidential elections for the first time since the Taliban's fall in 2001. With over 8 million men and women voting, and feared violence from former Taliban forces and regional warlords less than expected, the vote was widely viewed as a success for Afghanistan's nascent democracy. With over 98% of votes counted as of 26 October 2004, Karzai was poised to win outright with 56% of the tally. Runner-up Yunus Qanooni, an ethnic Tajik, leading figure in the Northern Alliance, and former education minister in Karzai's interim government, garnered 16%. Mohaqeq, leader of the minority Shia Hazaras, and Dostum, took 12% and 10%, respectively.
Though observers were pleased with the relative absence of violent disruptions to the poll, the elections did not come off without controversy. In the weeks before the election, the number of registered voters came to exceed the estimated number of eligible voters in the country, raising many eyebrows as multiple-registration was added to the list of fraud allegations. To prevent people from voting more than once, each voter's thumb was to be marked with indelible ink after casting a ballot, so they could be easily identified when trying to vote a second time. However, through the day it became evident that some of the markers contained an ink that could be easily washed off, thus undermining the protection against multiple-voting.
These problems, in addition to other claims of fraud and intimidation, prompted all 15 candidates opposing Karzai to call for a boycott of the poll mid-way through election day. Support for the boycott soon crumbled, however, under pressure to respect the election results, and due to the view that the candidates were selling Afghanistan's goals for their own short-term political gain. Candidates agreed to heed the opinion of a United Nations investigation into the irregulaties, and on 24 October 2004 runner-up Qanooni conceded defeat.
Despite Karzai's outright victory, and opponents' acceptance of the result, hopes that the election would provide a broad, multi-ethnic mandate for Karzai's reform agenda were not fully realized. Some were disappointed that the margin of victory was not larger. And perhaps more worrying, of the 21 provinces Karzai - an ethnic Pashtun - won, 19 were in the Pashtun-dominated south. In the other two provinces Karzai carried, he took pluralities but not majorities. Similarly, Qanooni seemed to bank the Tajik vote and Dostum the Uzbek vote. What is more, many Afghans believed the outcome pre-determined, with Karzai the American-ordained victor from the outset. Still, international opinion has viewed the election as a net positive and a cause for cautious optimism.
On November 3, 2004, Hamid Karzai was declared the winner of Afghanistan's first-ever presidential election, after the United Nations-Afghan joint electoral commission endorsed the election results as free and fair and announced that Karzai had won more than 55% of the votes. He was inaugurated December 7, 2004, for a five-year term as Afghanistan's first democratically elected president.
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