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Professor witnessed Afghan election first hand

  • At the pollsRani Mullen, assistant professor of government, served as an observer for Afghanistan's Aug. 20 presidential election.

    At the polls

In the midst of a war against terrorism, Afghanistan struggles to establish itself as a democracy. Presidential elections held in the country August 20 ended in accusations of fraudulent voting; results of the election remain in flux. William & MaryAssistant Professor of Government Rani Mullen served as an international observer for the August election. Recently she spoke with the William & Mary News about what she saw on the ground, the prospects for a re-vote and what is at stake for the fledgling democracy.

Mullen was among approximately 80 observers in Afghanistan in August with Democracy International (DI). While she personally witnessed few fraudulent conditions where she was stationed in the capital, Kabul, she knows her experience wasn’t shared by observers in Afghanistan’s smaller cities and outlying areas.

Chances for a re-vote, Mullen said, were split. But that oncoming winter conditions would likely dictate the timing of any potential re-vote, saying a second election would need to be held by the end of October.

"That’s probably the latest that it can be held due to geographic concerns," Mullen said. "In Afghanistan, in the very high lying areas you start to have snowfall so mountains – entire villages – become inaccessible."

Mullen sees the importance of the re-vote as far reaching, and reaffirming the Afghan people’s faith in the democratic process as imperative.

"This is not only about defeating Al Qaeda, because if we don’t address the root cause of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which is desperate poverty and a system that was so corrupt, than you have the makings of another kind of scenario where Taliban come back and come back to stay and Al Qaeda finds a host that can host them," she added.