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Southland Afghans Elect 10 for National Council

June 11, 2002|KIMI YOSHINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After one failed election, many controversies and months of planning, Southern California Afghans finally elected 10 area representatives--a group diverse in age, gender, ethnic background and political ideology--who will be part of a national 40-member council of Afghan Americans.

The council's primary goals will be to provide a unified voice to government leaders, a liaison between Afghan Americans and the Afghan government, assist with their homeland's reconstruction and promote cultural awareness.

"This was our first test of democracy," Malibu resident Zohra Yusuf Daoud, a former Miss Afghanistan and newly elected representative, said of the elections. "The most important thing is that we got together. This council is a combination of Pashtun, Tajik, different languages, different political agendas. We need to show to the people of the community that we can work together."

The weekend election took place in three Southern California locations. About 975 people voted, which was less than expected, but organizers said they were pleased voting took place without a hitch.

"Things went very well, very democratically," said Irvine resident Mir Saifullah Kazim, a member of the Election Commission.

The last time an election was held, on Jan. 27, more than 1,000 people showed up at a banquet hall in Laguna Hills. Police were called in to help clear the overcrowded hall and many people complained that the election process was unfair.

In response to the criticism, local Afghans formed an Election Commission to plan subsequent elections, a nominating process and candidate guidelines.

The Southern California Afghan Americans now hope to join their counterparts from Northern California, New York and the Washington, D.C., area to form a national organization. No formal name has been chosen for this group.

Kazim said the process has been a learning experience:

"It was quite interesting. I've never experienced anything like this before. It's like bringing a child into the world without a mother."

The Southern California Afghans elected over the weekend are Hassan Amiry of Anaheim; Zohra Yusuf Daoud of Malibu; Sayed Khalilollah Hashemeyan of Montclair; Assadullah Manely of Irvine; Abdul Ahad Mansoori of Burbank; Kabir Mohmand of Santa Ana; Yasin Mohammad Noorzay of Reseda; Adbul Qayum Qargha of San Diego; Flouran Wali of San Diego; and Nasim Yusuf of Garden Grove.

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