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News - Election 2014

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A number Afghan MPs and civil society activists on Monday responded to the campaign announcements of the Presidential candidates that came the day before. They said the Presidential hopefuls' promises were unrealistic and vague.

The 11 Presidential candidates were asked to share their platforms with the people and media on Sunday, the first day of campaigning, as part of a big push this election year for the contest to be based around policy debate rather than ethnic, linguistic and regional ties.

But on Sunday, all that was heard from the candidates were broad-sweeping promises about "implementing justice", "respecting human rights" and "enforcing the rule of law".

MPs and civil society activists on Monday stressed that the Presidential candidates would only confuse people by presenting nebulus slogans that sound good but lack the nuts and bolts necessary for implementation.

Some called for a new approach to holding politicians accountable if they do get voted into office.

"An observing mechanism should be created: Whenever a candidate comes to power, it should observe whether their plans were implemented or not," MP Fawzia Koofi said.

The issues of human rights was a focus of civil society activists, who saw it as dishonest that candidates who had spotty human rights records would publicly promise to respect them if they were in office.

"Most of the candidates are human rights violators as well and they don't have good backgrounds," Human Rights and Civil Society Network Director Naeem Nazari said. "Oral slogans and plans cannot satisfy the people, a written form of the plans should be given to them."

Others shifted blame away from the candidates, and focused on how undeveloped the Afghan democratic system was, pointing to the lack of strong, established political parties.

"The problem is that we don't have good and inclusive political parties," Afghan Civil Society Forum Director Aziz Rafee said. "Because of this, the slogans are not so effective. And most of them are unrealistic."

For many of the candidates, the public's perception is entirely shaped by their past, and what people remember of it. For some voters, it could be hard to trust candidates who promise to incorporate women into the new government more yet have a horrible track record on women's issues.

As the campaign season gets into full-swing, the debate surrounding platforms and priorities is sure to continue. However, if candidates hope to have a shot at the Presidential Palace in April, they will likely have to resolve the lack of trust that in some cases exists between them and voters.

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