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Afghan elections: Power of youth

Aljazeera, 11 June 2014 - On June 14th, millions of Afghans will be participating in the country's first runoff election. 68 percent of the population is under the age of 25, forming the bulk of voters. Yet, many are frustrated with the candidate pool, arguing that the status quo will not change.
However, for the first time, social media is playing an important role in shaping the views of Afghanistan's 2.4 million Internet users. The leading contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani utilise Facebook and Twitter heavily to reach out to their urban supporters.
Youth participation had declined in the country's last elections, and many young activists today are trying to encourage political engagement. The Taliban threatened to disrupt this year's elections by attacking polling booths. In response, members of the Kabul-based Young Activist Network for Reform and Change (YARC) posted images of themselves with their fingers inked a week before elections to encourage people to vote.
Other groups with support from the U.S. Institute of Peace are carrying out engagement activities like rap contests to find an election anthem. The winners were awarded $ 1000 and their videos were posted on YouTube:
Online communities like Paiwandgah collect reports of campaign irregularities, security issues, election day voter testimonies via social media and text messages. They share their reports online, saying they hope to "contribute to the national dialogue about the most important issues facing the nation".


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