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The words of the professor

Under the Afghan constitution and electoral law, the responsibility for organisation of elections is given to the Independent Election Commission. I sat down with Professor Ludin, the chairman of the IEC, and asked him what happens next.

Last modified: 2 Nov 2009 09:13
Photo by AFP

Under the Afghan constitution and electoral law, the responsibility for organisation of elections is given to the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

The IEC's chairman - a post that is appointed by the country's president - Professor Azizullah Ludin has been repeatedly criticised by Dr Abdullah, who has claimed he is not a neutral figure.

Now Abdullah has pulled out of the second round. I sat down with Professor Ludin and asked him what happens next.

This is a transcript of part of our interview:

JB: Are we still going to have an election on November 7th?

LUDIN: Yes. That is the order of the law. The constitution says when there is an election and when in the first round, you didn’t get 50 plus, you have [to] go to the second round. We have to do that, because this is the order of the Afghan constitution.

JB :  Do you see any circumstances under which this election might be cancelled, now there is only one candidate?

LUDIN: I told you that is the order of the constitution. How can you cancel the order of the constitution?

JB: But there will be safety implications. They will be people risking their lives to go to the polling stations, there will be troops guarding those polling stations - all risking their lives for an election when we already know the outcome.

LUDIN: I have heard that democracy has its sacrifices. When you want [to] have democracy in this country, you have to take the sacrifices yourself.

JB: But is it really democracy to have an election where you have only have one candidate?

LUDIN: Without [an] election, there won't be any democracy in this country.

JB: There will only be one man on the ballot people can actually vote for - what is the point?

LUDIN: The point is that I have to discuss this matter with my commissioners. I have called them to come to the office, and we have to discuss this matter, and we will see all sides of the constitution, and of other laws. And I will invite some constitutional lawyers from the University of Kabul, and from other places. We will discuss what kind of decision we can take. But the order of the constitution is to go to the second round.

JB: How do think this will be viewed around the world, particularly in countries, which have sent soldiers to fight here in Afghanistan. Some of those soldiers are going to be protecting an election where there is only one candidate who people can vote for?

LUDIN: I do not know when Mrs Clinton says that happened in other countries, not Afghanistan.

JB: But isn’t the situation very different in Afghanistan?  There’s a war going on here.

LUDIN: Yes, we have since 30 years this problem. If we want to stop everything until Afghanistan is secure, it will take a long time, you know that. But we are in the process of learning. We have to implement this kind of action, and go in the direction of democracy.