EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy (EPD) organized a series of workshops on civil society engagement into politics in collaboration with other Afghan CSOs. The 2014 presidential election is an important national event in the history of Afghanistan and the 2009 elections clearly affected their level of enthusiasm to participate in the 2014 elections. That is why it was crucial to get people talk about elections and encourage them, through advocacy sessions, to use their democratic right of voting and engage in making their destiny. To achieve this goal, EPD in partnership with four other national organizations (CPAU, PTRO, SDO and TLO) conducted a series of four regional workshops during November and December 2013 in the Central and East Zone, Herat/Western, Mazar-e-Sharif/Northern and Kandahar/Southern Regions of Afghanistan.
These workshops focused on discussions around challenges and solutions to fair and transparent 2014 presidential and provincial elections, and the role of civil society in this process. The concerns raised by the participants in these workshops were insecurity, lack of transparency, independent and impartial electoral bodies, and lack of willingness from the Afghan government to provide supervision and accountable mechanisms in prevention of manipulation by strong and influential local leaders on the elections process.
Subsequent to that, a national civil society conference titled “How Can We make the 2014 Elections a Success?” was held on 8th and 9th December 2013 at Safi Landmark Hotel, Kabul. This conference concluded the four regional workshops mentioned above. A diverse group of nearly 200 civil society members (35% women) representing all Afghan provinces and traditional leaders (community and religious) as well as civil society (youth, women and professional groups as well as community-based organizations) gathered to discuss how each of them can contribute to transparent and accountable 2014 presidential and provincial council elections to minimize fraud.
The participants reemphasized the importance of credible elections for the future of a united and peaceful Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support to help spread awareness about the election process and the importance of every vote (including women and youth) as well as active monitoring in order to minimize fraud. They once more called upon every citizen to realize their role in ensuring fair campaigns, informed political debates, active voter participation, and an election day free from fraud and violence. The participants demanded from the Afghan government to reduce corruption, supply adequate security, allow civil society to monitor the election, provide adequate technical support, and avoid ties to any specific candidates.