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Expats put on a show for Kerry in Kabul
Kitty Logan in Kabul and Duncan Campbell

The John Kerry for president campaign drew the spotlight from his Republican rival yesterday when supporters went on the hustings in the Afghanistan capital Kabul.

They even managed to find a living party symbol to steal the show.

In a handsome Kabul garden Franklin the Democrat Donkey gamely posed with the aid workers, UN staff and business people who had gathered to explain why they were backing the Massachusetts senator.

The Kabul event is one of many taking place outside the United States.

Iraq and Cambodia are amongst more than 70 countries where expat Democratic party supporters are organising to help Mr Kerry reach the White House.

"It shows there's fantastic support for John Kerry here in Kabul and I'm sure all across Afghanistan," said Karen Hirschfeld, an aid worker from Mr Kerry's home state.

Ms Hirschfeld works for an organisation dependent on US government funds, but she said that this did not present a problem.

"The great thing about America is that we live in a democracy, we are allowed to choose our presidential candidates as we see fit," she said.

"There is evidence there is a large percentage of Americans who want a change in both foreign and domestic policy.

So I feel quite comfortable working within a democracy to foster change."

She said she was not surprised that many Americans in Kabul did not support George Bush.

"I think that people working in the expat community are often very savvy about foreign affairs and I think that a lot of us here understand that the policies of the Bush administration has done nothing but alienate us from the rest of the world and it's time to reconnect."

Sharon Manitta of Democrats Abroad said that there are now committees of the organisation in 28 different countries and committees being formed in a further 43, including Iraq and Cambodia.

While the Kabul event was not an official DA event, she said, "obviously they have a great deal of belief in Senator Kerry".

There are an estimated seven to eight million Americans abroad and the Democrats have their largest organisations in the UK and Canada.

Exiled Americans are likely to be courted more than ever this year.

In the controversial 2000 election the postal votes of US servicemen and women abroad was seen as one of the crucial factors in delivering Florida to President Bush.

The received wisdom is that people in the armed forces remain more likely to lean towards Mr Bush than towards Mr Kerry, although the latter's distinguished service record in Vietnam may possibly alter the equation.

While there are no exact figures, the largest number of eligible American voters is thought to be in Mexico.

There are about 250,000 Americans in Britain.

As for Mr Bush's supporters in Kabul, they face one major problem if they seek to emulate their rivals.

Donkeys are easy to find in Afghanistan; elephants, the Republican party symbol, rather less so.


RAHA- World Independent Writers' Home, Afghanistan Center, In Exile



KP/27/June/ /2004

Source: The Guardian

From independent writers to independent readers

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