Lexingtonian State Dept. Worker Weighs In On Afghan Election

Apr 4, 2014

With Afghans heading to the polls tomorrow, one Lexingtonian is keeping an especially close eye on the results.

Deborah Alexander spent nine years in Afghanistan with the State Department, helping to oversee the first presidential election which brought US-backed Hamid Karzai to power. She says this election, however, represents another kind of first for the fledgling democracy.

"Not only is it important because it's their third presidential election, but it will be the very first time in Afghanistan's history that one man has peacefully transferred power to another," she says.

Another milestone is the inclusion of three female vice presidential candidates on the ballot.

"Not only are they voting for president - and there are eight candidates, eight slates - they will also be voting for their provincial councils which are like our state legislatures here," Alexander says.

Deborah Alexander in Jalalabad.
Credit Deborah Alexander

A series of attacks, however, in the run-up to the elections has placed monitors on alert. Tuesday, a provincial council candidate and nine supporters were killed. The following day, a suicide bomber killed six Afghan police officers in Kabul, and the Taliban are promising more.

Alexander says it’s unclear what effect the threats will have.

"Given the security questions and the spate of recent attacks, there's been a lot of concern that people won't turn out at all. And then there are a lot of people, friends of mine that's I'm in close contact with, that they think that the recent attacks are spurring people on and that people are defiant," she says.

One key decision facing the winner of the elections will whether to sign a bilateral security agreement with the U.S., something President Karzai has refused to do. Alexander says all of the candidates have pledged to sign on.