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Thursday, July 24, 2014  

Fair election will prevent civil war: Afghan politician
KABUL Prominent Afghan opposition leader Ahmad Zia Masood has urgent advice for President Barack Obama in his second term - clean up Afghan politics before the next election or risk civil war.

Masood said a number of factors could trigger another internal conflict after most Nato combat troops leave at the end of 2014, including growing fears of another Taliban takeover.

Most importantly, Obama must focus on ensuring that a 2014 election is free and fair after President Hamid Karzai’s re-election in 2009 was blighted by allegations of fraud.  

A marred poll could be the tipping point in a country where frustration is growing over corruption, poor governance, dilapidated infrastructure and high unemployment, said Masood.  

“On top of all these problems if the election is rigged then the people will lose patience and that opens up the door for a massive civil war,” said Masood, leader of the National Front of Afghanistan, a major opposition party.  

“If the political process is transparent here there won’t be a reason for a civil war. We expect Obama to pressure the government for a free and fair election.”  

Karzai has suggested foreign members be removed from the election watchdog, a step that could be seen as bolstering his influence. Karzai says he is committed to democracy.  

“If Obama wants to he can make the elections free and fair,” said Masood. “Every case of fraud in the election will take the country towards instability and the whole nation will rise up. This is not advantageous for the international community.”   

“If the Taliban take over militarily and if the elections are rigged in 2014 the consequences will be a massive civil war,” said Masood, sitting in the living room of his Kabul home protected by high walls and armed guards.  

Water and Energy Minister Ismail Khan, also a prominent anti-Soviet commander, recently called for the formation of a council to bring together the former commanders of the anti-Soviet mujahideen as doubts grow over the effectiveness of government forces ahead of 2014.  

Meanwhile, at least 18 people, including 10 civilians, were killed in three attacks in Afghanistan’s south and east on Thursday, provincial officials said.  

A roadside bomb killed 10 civilians who were driving to a wedding in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, Helmand police chief’s spokesman Farhid Ahmad Farhang said.  

Another roadside bomb killed five soldiers in the Badpakh area of Laghman, a province in the east, said Sarhadi Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.  

In the third attack, a suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated his explosives at a police station in Kandahar city, killing three policemen and wounding four, local officials said.

Agencies
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