Friday, 7 February 2014

Coalition for Afghan Democracy Launches to Ensure Free, Fair & Transparent Elections

Leading foreign policy experts, human and women's rights advocates, voting rights watchdogs and prominent business leaders from Afghanistan and the United States have come together to launch the Coalition for Afghan Democracy, a not-for-profit organization committed to ensuring democratic governance in Afghanistan through free, fair and transparent elections this April.

With Afghanistan's presidential and provincial elections just two months away, United States policymakers, the media and international human rights organizations will be watching closely. Despite Hamed Karzai's recent rhetoric which threatens to create a rift between Afghanistan and it's allies, the Coalition for Afghan Democracy is determined to highlight the need for April's election to remain free from interference or tampering by the Karzai government.

"The Coalition represents a broad range of educated views on Afghanistan, but we all believe that investing in an election that respects the will of the Afghan people will be important for Afghanistan's progress toward further democratization," said Hamed Wardak, an Afghan-American business owner, philanthropist and the Coalition's founder. "We know that the best way to help turn the page on a new, democratic Afghan future is for the United States to play an active and engaged role."

Members of the Coalition's Board of Directors include:

Naser Shahalemi – CEO, The Etemad Group
Dr. Mohammad Ali-Aziz Sultan – Lecturer on Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School
Masuda Sultan – Founder, Young Afghan World Alliance
Hamed Wardak – Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, American Rhodes Scholar, Democracy and Human Rights Advocate

Members of the Coalition's Advisory Council include:

Andrew Albertson – Former Deputy Regional Director, USAID/OTI in Afghanistan
Dr. John Calabrese – Scholar in Residence, Middle East Institute
Matt Griffin – US Army Ranger, Retired and President, Combat Flip Flops
Zaid Haidary – Entrepreneur, Civil Society Leader
Lt. General Frank Kearney – US Army, Retired
Amb. Luis Laredo – Former US Ambassador to the Organization of American States
Scott Mastic – Director, Middle East and North Africa, International Republican Institute
Mary Jo Myers – Co-President, Aschiana Foundation
Amb. Nancy Soderberg – Former US Representative for Special Political Affairs at the US Mission to the United Nations
Dr. Marvin Weinbaum – Scholar in Residence, Middle East Institute

"Conducting free and fair elections is a critical component of instilling a perception of confidence and legitimacy in the new Afghan government," said Craig Smith, senior advisor to the Coalition with more than 25 years of experience developing and executing political strategies at all levels of government. "Having worked with numerous post-conflict elections, it is clear to me that the international community should work hard to ensure that the process is credible and fully supported. Policymakers should also make sure the current government prevents both domestic and international interference in the electoral result."

In addition to engaging the American public, foreign policy community and policymakers, the Coalition will actively work with civil society groups on the ground in Afghanistan who will have the most direct impact on the integrity of the election process.

The Coalition for Afghan Democracy has launched a website ( where visitors are encouraged to take action and ask American policymakers to make every effort to ensure free, fair and transparent elections for the Afghan people.

"Like Americans, Afghans pride themselves on their independence. Like Americans, Afghans are struggling in their daily lives due to the decisions of their government. Like Americans, Afghans want to move forward," said Matt Griffin, Coalition advisory council member, former US Army Ranger and CEO of Combat Flip Flops. "My hope is that these elections are better than last. My hope is that Afghans rally behind what they believe. My hope is for Afghans to know our support for their next steps forward. I support a free, fair, and transparent election in Afghanistan."

"I support the Coalition for Afghan Democracy in its efforts to join together Afghans and Americans dedicated to ensuring that institutions and values of democratic governance, for which so many have worked and sacrificed, will be protected and expanded in the years ahead," said Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, Coalition advisory council member and scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute.

About the Coalition for Afghan Democracy
The Coalition for Afghan Democracy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of prominent Afghans and Americans working to promote democratic governance in Afghanistan through free, fair and transparent elections this April. Operated by a Board of Directors, the Coalition for Afghan Democracy aims to educate and raise awareness among key influencers about the importance of ensuring the Afghan people are able to exercise their democratic rights. For more information and a complete list of our supporters, please visit

SOURCE Coalition for Afghan Democracy

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