"Afghanistan by itself cannot afford to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars that it takes to run these elections, or the salaries of the locally elected officials.... Plans are moving forward to set up even more layers of local government"
This is liberation? Why not just LEAVE THEM ALONE and LET THEM DO IT the way they have been doing it for EVER? After all, it is THEIR COUNTRY, right?
Readers, MORE GOVERNMENT is NOT LIBERATION! It's OPPRESSION!!!!
"Little power for Afghans elected to local councils" by Farah Stockman, Globe Staff | September 28, 2009
WASHINGTON - Local elections for Afghanistan’s 34 provincial councils, held alongside a bitterly contested presidential race, have been all but ignored by the international community and Afghan voters because the councils - loosely akin to US state legislatures - don’t have the authority to make laws, collect taxes, or decide how money should be spent....
“We have come up with a ridiculous model for the country,’’ said Andrew Wilder, research director at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, who grew up in Afghanistan and returns regularly to do field research. “We are spending vast amounts of money to get them elected, and then we ignore them.’’
Advocates of local elections argue that these exercises in grass-roots democracy hold a key to bringing peace to the conflict-ridden country, by offering the promise of a connection between disgruntled citizens and the Afghan government, often seen as detached and unaccountable.
We REALLY DO HAVE MUCH in COMMON with the Afghans, don't we, Americans? MORE than we would CARE TO ADMIT, huh?
“There is a recognition within various donors that this is a body that could play a pivotal role in the evolution of institutional development here,’’ said Susan Carnduff, a Newburyport native who is the Kabul-based director of the National Democratic Institute, which trains 20 provincial councils.
The Obama administration has vowed to beef up Afghanistan’s local government structures as a key part of the new US counterinsurgency strategy. One idea is to give provincial councils a more formal role in determining the budgets of local development projects. For the time being, USAID, the US government’s chief aid agency, has begun providing some provincial councils with basic support, including desks and chairs.
Oh, we have been there EIGHT YEARS and they are JUST GETTING DESKS and CHAIRS, huh? Just in time to burn them for heat this winter.
But the emphasis on creating elected bodies that have no real power is worrisome, Wilder said, because Afghanistan by itself cannot afford to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars that it takes to run these elections, or the salaries of the locally elected officials, who earn about $300 per month. This year’s presidential and provincial council elections cost $325 million, about a third of which was paid for by the United States.
You really had $100 million to spare on that fraud, huh, 'murkn?
Plans are moving forward to set up even more layers of local government....
That's AmeriKan democrapy all right!
The question of just how much authority to give local officials and how much power the central government should retain has been debated for decades in Afghanistan, which has a long history of weak central governments that hold little sway over what happens outside the capital.
I think Afghans have it better than us, people -- at times!!!!
Today, provinces are run by governors appointed by Afghanistan’s president, while the elected councils serve merely as advisers.
Yup, VERY MUCH LIKE AmeriKa! They DON'T LISTEN TO US, either!
But even as advisers, provincial councils have been eclipsed by “provincial development committees’’ set up by the government and US military commanders.
To the back of the bus, ordinary Afghans and your vote!
Sure we are there "helping?"
The councils are also overshadowed by traditional community leaders, including unelected tribal chiefs, elders, and religious figures. As a result, some provincial councils don’t even hold regular meetings.
But they draw a salary? Were they trained in Massachusetts?
Yet, neither lack of authority nor attacks and death threats have deterred people from seeking provincial council posts, which are often seen as steppingstones to greater political power....
Politics is the SAME EVERYWHERE, isn't it?
The powers of provincial councils have been an issue since the constitution was first drafted in 2003. A description had not even been finalized by the time candidates ran in the first election in 2005, causing many victorious candidates to feel disappointed by their new posts.
Yeah, when you find out its a meaningless, powerless post, how else you supposed to feel?
“A year after they had been elected, in many places PC [provincial council] members were sitting twiddling their thumbs,’’ said Anna Larson, a researcher at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, a think tank based in Kabul.
Yeah, they are learning AmeriKan politics!
Larson, who researches voting in Afghanistan, said one woman she interviewed sold all of her gold, and all of her daughter-in-law’s gold, to run a successful campaign, but later complained that the position wasn’t worth the expense.
Nope. I wouldn't want it.
In 2004, then-foreign minister Ashraf Ghani tried to raise $1 million for councils to spend on aid projects, but donors didn’t fund the idea. “That has always been the debate: Do you give them a budget or not?’’ said Paul O’Brien, a former assistant to Ghani who is now director of the aid-effectiveness program at Oxfam America, headquartered in Boston. “We believe that you have to give them some funding . . . to reward the responsible ones and punish those that are corrupt.’’
Isn't that extortion?
The councils have so little power that some candidates appeared to run for office solely because they believed the official title would offer some protection from arrest on charges of drug trafficking or war crimes, Wilder said.
Seems to work in the U.S.
Still, some elected officials have managed to wield real political clout by family connections or the sheer force of their personalities. President Hamid Karzai’s brother, who heads Kandahar’s provincial council, wields great influence over development projects....
Why leave that out, Globe?