A TALE OF TWO ELECTIONS….Despite some initial problems, it looks like the Afghan elections basically came off pretty well:
Controversy clouding Afghanistan’s historic first presidential election eased Sunday when several major opposition candidates backed off from assertions that voter fraud and errors at polling places had rendered Saturday’s vote meaningless and illegitimate.
…. Officials also emphasized that despite dire predictions of attacks at the polls by the Taliban militia and other armed groups, no serious attacks had occurred Saturday. Afghan and international security forces had discovered and successfully thwarted a number of possible bombing plots and other attacks, officials said.
….Robert Barry, who headed the European delegation monitoring the election, said the opposition candidates’ demands to nullify the vote were “unjustified” and would “put into question the expressed will of millions of citizens.” He called for a “thorough and transparent investigation” of the polling complaints and said they should be “dealt with as the law provides.”
That’s good news. Iraq, on the other hand, is still looking pretty dicey:
Leaders of Iraq’s crucial Sunni Arab minority say they have failed to generate any enthusiasm for nationwide elections scheduled for January, and are so fearful of insurgent violence and threats that they can meet only in private to talk about how – or even whether – to take part.
….Although several Sunni-based political parties have taken root here, their leaders say their attempts to rally constituents are failing to resonate in the face of cynicism and violence. Many of those who want to take part in the elections say they can do so only in secret, lest they risk assassination by Sunni insurgents.
“What we think is that people ought to vote,” said Dhari al-Samarrai, a senior leader of the Islamic Party, a largely Sunni group. “But people are telling us, we won’t take part in the elections. What is the use, with all these bombings? The big tribes, Dulaimi and Jabouri, all of them are telling us this.”
We’ll see. When voter registration actually starts, Sunni enthusiasm may turn out to be higher than expected. But it might be higher still if George Bush were willing clean up enclaves of Sunni insurgency now, instead of waiting until his own election is over.