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Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 17:07 UK

Little Afghan appetite for more voting

An Afghan boy walks past election posters for presidential and provincial council candidates in Kabul, Afghanistan Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009.
Few Afghans want to go through the trauma of another election

The head of the commission investigating allegations of fraud in last month's Afghan presidential election says final results will not be known for another 10 to 14 days. Western governments want a thorough investigation to ensure that whoever wins is seen as a credible victor. But it's not a view shared by ordinary Afghans - as Allan Little reports from Kabul.

It's hard to find Afghans with much enthusiasm for a second round presidential election run-off - or even for the drawn-out process of investigation into widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

Gul Ahmad
Everybody should compromise in the interests of the nation
Bus driver Gul Ahmad

Even supporters of the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, seem sceptical at best.

"Many people are poor here," Gul Ahmad, a 53-year-old bus driver, told me.

"A second round would cost a lot of money that should be spent on other things.

"I voted for Dr Abdullah but we should accept the election result now. Everybody should compromise in the interests of the nation."

Afghans know that elections here bring violence. They can also divide the country's main ethnic groups against each other.

Taliban intimidation, together with attacks on polling stations, meant that in much of Afghanistan it took real courage to vote last month. Few want to go through it all again.

Human rights activist Ozala Ashraf Nemat said she, too, was against a second round.

"Why would a second round be any different from the first?" she said.

"Why would it be more free or more fair? Who would guarantee it?

Khaliq Nemat and his daughter Ozala Ashraf Nemat
Ozala Ashraf Nemat and her father want to get on with life

"People feel they have already voted. If there is a second round there will be a much lower turn-out."

The result of that, she added, could be even less credible than that of the first round.

"People are fed up with the delays," she says.

"They just want to get the election over with, they have families to feed - they want to get on with their lives."

Ozala's father, Khaliq Nemat, is an architect and urban planner. He's more worried still about the risks of a second round.

"It is not political ideas that divide the main candidates," he said.

"It is a question of their tribes. There will be intimidation. People will say 'vote for this person or I will burn your house down'.

"I fear that the side that loses could turn to weapons. It could come to civil war."

It is one of the holiest times of the year in the Islamic world. Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

At the Wazir Akhbar Khan mosque in central Kabul, the Imam Mohamed Ayaz Niazi, appealed to the faithful to show restraint and patience while the fraud investigation takes place.

He too opposes a second round.

"You cannot expect to have a Western-style election in Afghanistan," he told me.

"The conditions here are not favourable to that. We should accept the results of the election even it is only a small achievement."

Western concerns

If there is public demand for a second round it is not coming from the Afghan public.

It is coming from outside the country. Foreign governments have to keep persuading their own populations that the effort they are putting into the war is worth it.

An election that is widely perceived to be flawed beyond redemption - stolen even - stokes scepticism in Western, not Afghan, public opinion.

And if public support in the West seeps away, it will make the war against the Taliban much harder to win.



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