Ramazan Bashardost

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Ramazan Bashardost is a candidate in the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election, and a member of the Afghan parliament. He is of the Hazara people, but is campaigning as a representative of the entire Afghan people, arguing against warlord and ethnic politics. Originally thought to be a symbolic candidate, recent polls show him in 3rd place, ahead of Ashraf Ghani. [1] He earned three master’s degrees and a doctorate in political science at the University of Toulouse in 1995.

After the Taliban were overthrown, he took a diplomatic post at the Afghan Embassy in Paris, where he had been educated and in 2003 returned home to head the European Affairs Department at the Foreign Affairs Ministry. [2]

In 2004, he was planning minister in the government of Hamid Karzai. He was highly critical of non-governmental organizations, saying the "majority of them were a source of Afghanistan money drain. He particularly highlighted the hefty amounts paid to the NGO employees and ministers as compared to the average income of less than a dollar average national income." He resigned over this issue.

Presenting himself as a populist, he lives in a tent next to Parliament, and drives a rusting Suzuki "frequently compared to the Mini driven by Mr Bean, a character much loved in Afghanistan". [3] He did win election to Parliament by a large margin.

Some media have called him "Afghanistan's Gandhi", for "his personal integrity, his ascetic style, and inclusive message." He travels without bodyguards; speaking from Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan Province, an area considered dangerous, about which he said "When I travel to the provinces, I personally do not feel insecure. I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't spilled the blood of Afghan people and have neither taken their land by force."[4]

References

  1. Jason Motlagh (16 August 2009), "The Don Quixote of Afghanistan: A Long Shot's Quest", Time (magazine)
  2. Adam B. Ellick (20 June 2009), "Corruption Crusader Aims for Afghan Presidency", New York Times
  3. Tom Coghlan (12 August 2009), "Anti-corruption ‘Mr Bean’ candidate Ramazan Bashardost eyes presidency", The Times (UK)
  4. Abubakar Siddique (14 August 2009), "Afghan 'Gandhi' Running a People-Centric Election Campaign", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty