KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – More than 250 elders from the Manogai District descended upon the governor’s compound in Asadabad Dec. 9 to hold elections determining the 45 members of the official district shura, formally called the District Community Council.
The transition of the pre-existing Manogai shura, formed in April, to the officially recognized community council brings the total of U.S. Agency for International Development Afghan Social Outreach Program funded community councils in Kunar to seven.
Manogai, located in the heart of the contentious Pech Valley, is currently the epicenter of violence in Kunar. However, the danger did not stop the elders from attending the elections, a positive sign of their willingness to participate in the legitimized Afghan process.
Opening the ceremony, Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, spoke in glowing terms of the previous shura and shared his optimism for the future. “The previous shura was very successful,” he said. “I am proud that we can come here together as brothers to choose our new shura.”
The previous shura Badir spoke of began as a response to corruption in the Pech Valley when 150 community leaders and elders held a public jirga in the Nangalam Hotel, Manogai District, March 5.
However, instead of ostracizing their community from the Afghan government, in effect, the people of Manogai became closer to the legitimate parts of the government by formalizing a community role in development and governance.
These ties, which were strengthened in April when 250 key leaders from numerous tribes in Manogai established the district shura, were further reinforced by achieving the official recognition of their representative body by the provincial government during the elections Dec. 9.
Two members of the provincial administration even call Manogai District home. One, Mea Hassan, the Director of the Provincial Council, who was born and raised in Manogai, provided encouragement to the elders assembled.
“Manogai District is the most diverse in Kunar, and we will make its shura something to be proud of, an example for Gov. (Fazlullah) Wahidi and for the rest of Kunar.”
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