Voter turnout on Saturday remained high despite violence and the world will wait, for weeks it seems, for the results of ANTM (Afghanistan’s next top man). Three main contenders have emerged as the leading candidates in what is to be Afghanistan’s first democratic transition. We have the People’s Champion, Abdullah Abdullah. Contesting against him is the Good Doctor Ashraf Ghani, and Zalimai Rasoul “The King’s Man,’ backed by the outgoing president.
The People’s Champion is a well-known politician, well received by the Afghan public, judging from 31% of the votes he won in the presidential elections of 2009. His plans to tackle terrorism and the security situation in the country remains much of a mystery. He is however, less willing than his counterparts to rush to the negotiating table. The Good Doctor is an academic and intellectual, and is famous for his economic acumen alongside his self-imposed exile during the Taliban years. The last frontrunner is the King’s Man, experienced in issues of national security. That he will manage to break free from the yoke of the old government and all of its failings is dubious, but remains to be seen. With eight candidates in total, it seems unlikely that one man will manage 50% of the vote, which means there will be run-offs with rivals on May 28th.
The run up to April 5th has been a bloody affair with the Taliban revving up attacks on international journalists. Still, heroically, the voters turned up to cast their votes. The election has been a real test in the spotlight for 350,000 Afghan troops as well, who stood guard for their people against attacks. Though it is unlikely that this marks the coming of the Great Change in Afghanistan, it is rightly being publicized as a landmark in the country’s history. Breakthroughs in ideology and narrative deserve the hype. The suspense is all too real. Afghanistan, after all this time, has a legitimate reason to hold its breath. We wait alongside.