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BBC, CBS, NYT, WaPo, Others Cover RFE-Sponsored Afghan Debate

Four days before Afghanistan's presidential elections, millions of Afghans saw and heard three top candidates, including President Hamid Karzai, discuss the issues facing their country in a televised debate sponsored by RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan. Media around the world covered the historic debate.


The Washington Post

Karzai Faces 2 Rivals in Debate

August 16, 2009

The event Sunday, sponsored by Radio Free Europe and help in an auditorium operated by Afghanistan’s national television station, marked the first time during the campaign that Karzai has publicly debated his opponents.

The New York Times

Afghanistan’s President Moves to Bolster Bid for Re-election

August 16, 2009

President Hamid Karzai moved to strengthen his chances of re-election on Sunday, just four days before the voting, by appearing in a live televised debate with two of his opponents and allow an Uzbek warlord to return to Afghanistan to rally support.


Karzai’s warlord links challenged

August 16, 2009

Ahead of Thursday’s presidential poll, Mr Karzai was taken to task by two rival candidates, ex-ministers Ramazan Bashardost and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. But Mr Karzai defended his alliances in the 90-minute debate, saying they served the interests of national unity.

Karzai, Rivals Debate as Afghan Elections Draw Near
August 17, 2009
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, heavily criticized last month for skipping a candidates' debate, met two of his political rivals in a nationally televised debate Sunday night, just four days ahead of the war-torn country's presidential elections.


Karzai in first live Afghan TV presidential debate

August 16, 2009

Afghan President Hamid Karzai took part Sunday in a live television debate with two of his main rivals running in this week’s election, a first for an incumbent head of state in the war-scarred country.


Violence Looms 3 Days Before Afghan Vote

August 17, 2009

Sunday night, the top three presidential candidates, including President Hamid Karzai, took part in an American-style televised debate.

National Public Radio
An Election, But not a Lot of Hope, on the Horizon in Afghanistan
August 18, 2009
Yesterday, in the only campaign debate in which Karzai took part, he took the occasion to reiterate his calls for negotiation with the Taliban.


Ashraf Ghani touts his credentials

August 17, 2009

The debate performance of Afghan presidential contender Ashraf Ghani proves he is the best candidate to lead the country, the former finance minister said.

The Christian Science Monitor

Dostum’s return to Afghanistan: a nod to ‘warlord politics’

August 17, 2009

(Haroun) Mir noted, however, that (the debate) probably reached a wider audience because it was also broadcast on radio. National unity was a major theme. Karzai, a Pashto speaker, began the debate speaking in Dari, and Mr. Bashardost, a Dari speaker, started in Pashto.

Violence Peaks Amid Afghan Campaign
August 17, 2009
President Karzai pledged during the live debate on Sunday to rein in the operations of international forces in the country. Karzai, considered the election front runner, took to the stage with Ramazan Bashardost, an independent candidate, and Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister.

The (Toronto) Globe and Mail

Amid Taliban threat, Karzai struggles to defend record

August 17, 2009

Apparently fearful that his hold on power is weakening, Afghan President Hamid Karzai exposed himself to the political risks of a television debate Sunday night, struggling to defend his record against his rivals while answering new threats from the Taliban days ahead of a crucial test for Afghan democracy.

The Guardian

Hamid Karzai on ropes in televised election debate

August 17, 2009

With just three days to go until presidential elections on Thursday Hamid Karzai finally took part in a televised debate with his leading competitors yesterday, although the man polling in second place, Abdullah Abdullah, failed to turn up.

Voice of America

Afghan President Karzai Confronts Two Rivals in Election Debate

August 16, 2009

The debate was organized and broadcast by both the state TV channel, RTA, and Radio Free Afghanistan (Radio Azadi), which is funded by the U.S. Congress.

The Australian

Taliban threat to Afghanistan election

August 17, 2009

But Mr Karzai is said to have picked Radio Free Afghanistan director Akbar Ayazi as the moderator for last night’s debate. Dr Abdullah pulled out, leaving Mr Karzai to debate Dr Ghani and Ramzan Bashardost.

National Review Online
An Afghan First
August 17, 2009
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been significantly reinvigorated following the arrival recently of three outstanding newsmen. Now its Afghan service has played host to the first ever Afghan Presidential debate ahead of that country’s elections on Thursday.

The Washington Independent

Another COIN Skeptic: Hamid Karzai

By Spencer Ackerman. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty got an exclusive interview with Hamid Karzai after yesterday’s presidential debate.

The Daily Telegraph
Afghan Vote Can Proceed "Thanks to British Military Campaign"
August 16, 2009
resident Hamid Karzai, the front runner, also took part in a television debate against two of his closest rivals, Ashraf Ghani and Ramazan Bashardost.


Drums roll, the presidential campaign closes

August 17, 2009

On Sunday night, Afghan President Hamid Karzai finally joined his main rivals for a televised debate on the state-run national television. The incumbent, who is leading in the polls, had boycotted an earlier debate on a private TV station, drawing sharp critiques from his rivals, including Abdullah and former Afghan finance minister, Ashraf Ghani.

Council on Foreign Relations

Afghan Elections: A Perilous Time

Interview with Ahmed Rashid, Pacific Council on International Policy

August 17, 2009

There was a debate on Afghan television last night involving the main candidates, minus Abdullah. Karzai again talked about the possibility of having a loya jirga [a political meeting of tribal elders] with the Taliban participating. There’s constant talk about a negotiation with the Taliban. Is this really feasible?