TOLOnews and ATR Consulting have carried out a nationwide survey over the past two weeks to gauge the Afghan public's views of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
The BSA, which remains to be finalized between Kabul and Washington, would ensure a foreign troop presence in Afghanistan after next year and continued aid funding to the Afghan forces. It was approved by a 2,500-person Loya Jirga in Kabul last month.
According to the survey, 56.1 percent of respondents said they support the signing of the agreement as soon as possible while only 12 percent said they were in opposition.
Respondents were also asked for their opinions of the IEC, which has been charged with overseeing the electoral process for the upcoming 2014 vote. Thirty-five percent nationwide said the Commission was "independent" and 16 percent said it had a little bit of freedom, while 9 percent felt that the IEC was not independent and 39 percent said nothing on the matter.
The survey questions were asked over the phone, with up to 2,603 respondents from 34 provinces being interviewed. Results varied slightly across different regions of the country.
In the central and northern parts of the country, 63 percent wanted the BSA to be signed soon, 12 percent more cautiously supported it, 10 percent opposed it and another 14 percent said nothing.
In the southern provinces, 50 percent indicated strong support for the BSA, 9 percent cautiously supported the agreement, 12 percent opposed it and 25 percent said nothing.
In eastern Afghanistan, opposition to the BSA was significantly larger, with only 43 percent saying they strongly supported the BSA, 14 percent cautiously, 22 percent saying nothing and 22 percent opposing the agreement.
In the central and northern region of the country, 33 percent of respondents said the IEC was fully independent. That figure was about 37 percent in the western provinces of Afghanistan and 40 percent in the eastern parts.
All in all, the results of the survey suggest that more than half of the respondents support the BSA and have confidence in the independence of the IEC heading into the April elections.
To access the full survey, click here.