The Elections 2018 section is a special project of Reporterly that looks to elections’ latest stories, news, big stories and the post-elections phase. Through Elections 2018, we provide our audience with an Afghan perspective of elections and report on the ground issues related to elections through our indigenous sources.
Gul Ahmad Noorzad: Lawmaker from Nimroz Province
Gul Ahmad Noorzad was born in 1965 in Nimroz province. Mr. Noorzad has studied military and in 1984 graduated from Military University of Afghanistan. He has served in the Afghan Army till 1993, then he retired, upon which he began business works.
Mr. Noorzad explained about his motivation to Reporterly: “The sense of responsibility that I had for my people and country, inspired me to become a Lawmaker in the parliament, who in this sensitive situation serves his people and is a true lawmaker for them. In addition, I would like to at least play a promoting role pushing corruption out of the parliament.”
He highlighted “lack of drinking water, health facilities, standard education and lack of educational opportunities and employment are some of the challenges of People in Nimroz.”
Sayed Jamal Fakori Beheshti: Lawmaker from Bamyan Province
Sayed Jamal Fakori Beheshti, son of Sayed Hussain Beheshti, was born in 1965 in Waras District of Bamyan Province. He has received his elementary education in Panjab district of Bamyan province and earned bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in international relations.
Prior to entering the House of Representatives, Mr. Fakori was a member of a Jihadi Party led by his father. He served as head of cultural affairs in this party. In 1991 he had membership of Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hizb-e- Wahdat Islami Afghanistan) and in 15th, 16th, and 17th rounds of Parliament he entered House of Representatives as Lawmaker of Bamyan province.
In the 15th round of parliament, Mr. Fakori served as member of the Defense Committee, in 16th round served as member of the International Relation Committee and has been active in supervising government’s works, enacting legislation and coordination between security forces. He has been a member in Trust (Etemad) parliamentary group. At present Mr. Fakori doesn’t have any collaboration with any political parties.
Speaking to Reporterly Mr. Fakori outlined the problems of Bamyan province: “The security is good in Bamyan because people themselves decided that insecurity shouldn’t exist in the province, but what people in the province face is poverty and lack of employment because most of the goods are imported from outside and therefore there isn’t work opportunity for the people.”
Nematullah Karyab: Lawmaker from Kunar Province
Nematullah Karyab was born in 1982 in Kunar province. Mr. Karyab has received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Literature from Nangarhar University.
Mr. Karyab has an inspiring voyage in journalism. He has worked as a reporter in local and international media. In 2003 he started working with the BBC where his journey lasted for 15 years. Moreover, he has contributed to other leading newspapers including New York Times and the Associated Press. Now Mr. Karyab is a lecturer at Kunar University.
While speaking about his background, Mr. Karyab also spoke about his motivation in entering to House of Representative to Reporterly: “During the previous parliament terms, there were lawmakers who had not served people and couldn’t do tangible works as representatives of people. I am also tired of powerful figures because we lived in an academic environment, so I wanted to bring young generation into politics and provide a platform for the growth of talented individuals, therefore I nominated myself as a representative of the people in house of representatives. ”
Mr. Karyab described the problems of Kunar: Kunar is one of those provinces of Afghanistan which is rich in natural resources but no utilization has been made of these resources. These resources bring us harm and the wood in the Kunar province is smuggled, instead of being used for benefits. Besides, people in Kunar don’t have drinking water and women are deprived of education and training.”
In continuation of a series of biographies covering the newly elected members of the Afghan parliament, in its 6th report, Reporterly is looking into the lives of Nilofar Ibrahimi and Abdul Rauf Enhami lawmakers from Badakhshan province and Zefnoon Safi from Laghman province.
Nilofar Ibrahimi: Lawmaker from Badakhshan province
Nilofar Ibrahimi daughter of Ibrahim Bek was born in 1975 in Tagab district of Badakhshan.
Ms. Ibrahimi has specialized in nursing and maternity. She has also earned a bachelor’s degree in 2003 from Balkh University. She has worked in Kisham hospital in Badakhshan province. It is the second term Ms. Ibrahimi gets elected as a member of parliament from Badakhshan province.
In an interview with Reporterly, Ms. Ibrahimi talked about her motivation about entering the race to the parliament:” There are two reasons that inspired me to become a lawmaker in parliament. The first reason is that I grew up in a political family and my grandfather served as lawmaker for three terms in parliament. Secondly, as a woman who received an education far away from her family, I can better understand the status of women and I want to be the voice of women in parliament. ”
She also shed light about the problems of people in Badakhshan: “Badakhshan is one of the remote and mountainous provinces of Afghanistan. The good thing about Badakhshan province is that the province has famous mines and is bordered with three countries, instead of rendering benefit to this province, on the contrary, these mines and the geographical location of this province contributes to challenges of Badakhshan and its people. These mines are used and extracted by enemies of Afghanistan while they should be used by Afghan government. The people of the province also face many insecurities.
Abdul Rauf Enaami: Lawmaker from Badakhshan Province
Abdul Rauf Enaami is another lawmaker from Badakhshan province. It is the second time that he secured a seat in parliament. Mr. Enaami was born in 1972 in Shakar Lab village of Yaftal district of Badakhshan province. He has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law.
Prior to entering in House of Representatives this member of Afghan parliament has worked in urban development department in Badakhshan province for four years and then served as primary prosecutor in Yaftal district.
Speaking to Reporterly, he said that his motivation for running to the parliamentary elections is to serve people. He added that “I chose to become a lawmaker so that I can serve people and express my ideas and opinions in drafting and passing of laws in the parliament”.
Zefnoon Safi: Lawmaker from Laghman Province
Zefnoon Safi was born in 1971 in Mehterlam city, center of Laghman province. Mis. Safi has 14th grade diploma in education field from Teacher Training Institute of Laghman province. It is the third time that Mis. Zefnoon is elected as representative from Laghman province.
Her professional life is inspiring. She is a seasoned teacher who has taught students for 15 years to help them believe in a future that education can give them. She has worked as head of women’s affairs department in Laghman province as well as a provincial trainer at Afghan Development Association. Mis Safi is also member of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (Mahaz e Milli Islami Party of Afghanistan).
She has served in House of Representatives for two terms. It is exciting to see that she secured a seat in the 17th round of parliament. In previous term, she served as member of Budget Committee of the House of Representatives.
“Insecurity and unemployment are the two major challenges that people encounter in Laghman province,” Mis. Safi told Reporterly.
In the 17th round of parliament, we can see new and enthusiastic faces that entered the House of Representatives with an inspiration to be better lawmakers than former representatives and bring effective changes in the situation of Afghan people and country.
However, some of these lawmakers who entered the new term of Afghan parliament are the figures who have been part of previous terms of parliament too. These lawmakers believe that they have done and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities and served the people well therefore the people have voted for them again.
Wazhma Sapai: Lawmaker from Kunar Province
Wazhma Sapai is the daughter of Peer Mohammad and was born in 1963 in Kunar province. Ms. Sapai graduated from Kabul Police Academy and has served as police officer in ministry of interior for more than 20 years. She has also worked in eastern areas of Afghanistan in development and women’s rights sector of Independent Human Rights Commission.
It is the second time that Ms. Sapai was elected to the parliament from Kunar province. During her previous term she served as member of Committee on Internal Security of House of Representatives. Through this committee she worked with Ministry of Interior, National Directorate of Security, Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs and also local institutions.
Ms. Sapai told Reporterly about her motivation of becoming a lawmaker: “Kunar is among the remote and mountainous provinces of Afghanistan which needs a female lawmaker to raise the voice of people in the parliament. I saw this ability in myself to express the voice of people in the parliament and work for their progress and welfare.”
Ms. Sapai shed light on the problems that people face in Kunar province. She referred to the main problems in the province such as sharing border with Pakistan as the biggest challenge and also listed insecurity. “The province has difficult roads and faces many problems in transportation, road and drinking water.”
Sayed Mohammad Hassan Sharifi Balkhabi: Lawmaker from Sar-e Pol Province
Sayed Mohammad Hassan Sharifi Balkhabi, son of Sayed Hassan was born in 1971 in Balkhab district of Sar-e Pol province. Mr. Balkhabi completed his elementary and secondary education in 1995 at Sayed Jamaluddin school in Balkhab district. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in public law and master’s degree in international law. Mr. Balkhabi also studied in religious schools. He is elected for the second term in the Afghan parliament. Mr. Balkhabi is a member of the Hizb- e Wahdat e Mardum Afghanistan.
Prior to his journey in the parliament, his work experience includes teaching in religious schools in Bala Murghab district and Sheberghan city of Jawzjan province, being in charge of Ahlubayt religious school, Imam of Friday Prayer in Sheberghan city and head of Balkh religious council.
Mr. Balkhabi explained his motivation for entering the parliament to Reporterly:” When I was doing my mission and sent thousands of messages to people, I thought it would be better if I send these messages at the national level, and the services I was doing back then could become public. I was also inspired to work for the whole country and by entering the parliament I knew I could make better laws in order to ensure economic, political and administrative justice.”
Rangina Kargar: Lawmaker from Faryab Province
Rangina Kargar who is 33 years old now was born in 1986 in Mazar-i-Sharif. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in administrative and management field.
It is the second time that Kargar secured a seat in parliament from Fariyab province. Prior to entering the world of politics, she worked as finance manager during her academic journey in Noor University. She has also worked at International Bank of Afghanistan (AIB) for a short period of time.
The motivation of this young woman to enter the House of Representative is rooted in the challenges that people especially women face in the province. She told Reporterly that she has worked very much in this field. Miss Kargar added: “In all provinces of Afghanistan women face many challenges and that’s especially true for Faryab province.”
Kamal Nasir Osoli: Lawmaker from Khost province
Kamal Nasir Osoli was born in 1976 in Khost province. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in law from Russia. It is the second time that he entered parliament with high votes from Khost province.
According to Kamal Nasir Osoli: “Khost province is located near Miranshah city of Waziristan, and Waziristan is the Taliban center therefore the province faces much insecurities. Teachers’ capacity level is very low in the province, there is lack of enough schools and roads, there is no polyclinic in distant districts, and although there are five universities in Khost province, there is still a lack of study centre’s for students.”
Mr. Osoli told Reporterly that: “In 2009 I saw that in politics sphere of Afghanistan there were people, majority of whom couldn’t do what they wanted to do. Through entering parliament, I tried to do some useful work for people.”
He also noted that in the 14th round of parliament his father worked in this sector as representative of people. Inspired to serve people he entered the House of Representatives.
Kamal Nasir Osoli told Reporterly about his work and business experiences:” I had a business and along with that I was member of leadership council in a civil organization and still I am a member there. I was a civil society activist and in 2010 I nominated myself and with highest votes from the province I entered the House of Representatives. It has been eight years since I served as head of higher education committee, and also education sector and religious and cultural affairs in house of representatives.”
Ahmad Zia Yaftali; Lawmaker from Badakhshan Province
Ahmad Zia Yaftali was born in 1962 in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province. Mr. Yaftali is an elected lawmaker from Badakhshan province who entered in the 17th round of parliament.
He has earned his bachelor’s degree in medical from Kabul University and studied public health in Bangladesh and administrative and management studies in the United States.
His work experience includes, working in ministry of public health, and serving as the head of public health department of Badakhshan province for ten years. In 2002 Yaftali was the head of health department in ministry of defense and then served as medic officer in national army forces until the end of 2010. This lawmaker has also worked as chancellor of Zawul university.
Referring to the problems in various sectors of Badakhshan province, Mr. Yaftali told Reporterly about his motivation for representing the people: “I wanted to portray the challenges of Badakhshan province and place efforts in pursuit of addressing those problems.”
Hujatullah Kheradmand: Lawmaker from Badakhshan Province
Hujatullah Kheradman was born in 1987 in Argu district of Badakhshan province. He completed his school in this district and spent four years of study in National Military Academy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in law and has obtained his specialization in military affairs from Turkey.
Mr. Kheradmand served in the National Army. He has served as elected lawmaker from Badakhshan province, as deputy for legal cases in Bagram and in Special Forces. After resignation he nominated himself in parliamentary election from Badakhshan Province.
This lawmaker who secured a seat in parliament from Badakhshan province told Reporterly about his work priorities: “Most of the law breakers were those who were in the parliament and a few lawmakers worked honestly, but their voices weren’t heard. I want to go to parliament to see who my colleagues are and what are their missions and goals. My plan is to make a good team of similar-minded lawmakers to fulfil the promises I gave to people have a good representation of the people.
Mawlavi Zabiullah Atiq: Lawmaker from Badakhshan Province
Mawlavi Zabiullah Atiq was born in 1975 in Ragh district of Badakhshan province. He completed his education at religious schools in Karachi, Pakistan. In 2002 he obtained his bachelor’s degree from religious studies.
He worked as a teacher at the Faizabad High School in Badakhshan from 2002 to 2005. After November 2005, he entered provincial council election campaigns and has been elected and served as Badakhshan provincial council member for two terms. During the first term he served as deputy to the provincial council for two years, and in the second term he served four years as a head of provincial council. For more than one-year Mr. Atiq has worked as an advisor to the chief executive office of Afghan government.
Mawlavi Atiq spoke about his motivation behind stepping into parliament to Reporterly: “For nine years I served as lawmaker at Badakhshan provincial council, and I have a deep understanding of people of Badakhshan province and their problems from every corner of the province, all of which motivated me to nominate myself in parliamentary election and through entering into the House of Re
presentatives, I want to lessen the pains of the people and work to play a promoting role in addressing their problems.”
The priorities of this new elected lawmaker from Badakhshan in years ahead is to meet the needs of the people and along with his official tasks he is determined to work in other sectors such as improving the security and health situation in Badakhshan province.
In continuation of a series of biographies covering the newly elected members of the Afghan parliament, in its 4th report, Reporterly is looking into the lives of Ziauddin Zia and Mahboba Rahmat who are the lawmakers from Samangan province, and Azizullah Altafi, who is the lawmaker from Jawzjan province.
Ziauddin Zia was born in 1983 in Tajiki village of Samangan province. He graduated in 2009 from Judiciary and Prosecutor’s Department, Law faculty of Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan Institute of Higher Education. He then earned his bachelor’s degree in 2012.
The elected lawmaker of Samangan province obtained his master’s degree from Defense and Security studies from a university of Tajikistan.
Mr. Zia has previously served as deputy head of Samangan provincial council for a year and as the head of the council for five subsequent years before he was elected as lawmaker of Samangan province.
In this period, he has also been active in the political, economic and educational spheres and also placed efforts for funding projects for road construction.
Mr. Zia explained the reasons for running for the parliament to Reporterly:” I came to the parliament so that I could render more services to my people, because we are tired of the lack of attention from authorities. Now that I have been elected to parliament, I may be able to help the people of the country especially Samangan better than before.”
Mrs. Mahboba Rahmat is another elected lawmaker from Samangan province who entered the Afghan parliament as a result of 2018 parliamentary elections.
She is seasoned experienced in teaching school students which has enabled her to succeed in her professional life. She says that although teaching is an amazing job to educate and train the children of this country, she now wants to do something different. Now as elected lawmaker from Samangan province in parliament, she can not only represent her people but also defend their rights and interest.
Mahboba Rahmat is a 45-year old woman who knows and has had long years of experience in Samangan. She told Reporterly: “I have worked very hard in the education sector of Samangan province and initially started my work journey there. I have experience of teaching, working as a headmaster and a school principal in a girls’ school in the province.”
This strong and hard-working individual was chosen as principal of girls’ school in Samangan province after passing PRR (Priority Reforms and Restructuring) exam process.
Her work experience includes being an advocate in defending youth rights, a secretary of selected teachers’ council of Afghanistan, and a head of Teachers Union of Samangan province.
Mahboba Rahmat is the only woman from Samangan province who was elected to Afghan Representative House with highest votes.
She was born in February 1974 in Samangan province. Mrs. Rahmat has a diploma in mathematics from a mid-higher education institute. She also earned her bachelors’ and master’s degrees in International Relations.
Although Ms Rahmat was a candidate for parliamentary elections from Samangan province in 2010 and secured 4852 votes, she couldn’t make her entry into the Afghan parliament. She came to the parliament, inspired to play a promoting role in the progress of Samangan and the country as a whole.
Azizullah Alfati: Lawmaker from Jawzjan Province
Sayed Azizullah Alfati, son of Sayed Mulla Abdullah was born in Sheberghan city of Jawzjan province in 1964. The 55 year old has previously served as an elected lawmaker from the Jawzjan province in Upper House (Mesherano Jirga).
Mr. Alfati earned his bachelor’s degree from the technical academy specializing in radio communication. He also served as a military officer, head of the Jawzjan municipality, lecturer at the Teacher Training Institute of the province and as teacher and head of department in Qazanchi Balai high school in Jawzjan province.
Mr. Alfati says that the reason that inspired him to enter Afghan parliament was to serve and raise the voice of Jazwjan people. While talking about their problems he explained to Reporterly that: “Jawzjan is a less developed and backward province, there are a lot of insecure areas, all of which have contributed to its backwardness. Social services aren’t provided as needed and there is no work opportunity for women.”
As a lawmaker of Jawzjan province, he is inspired and has strong will to bring positive changes in the living conditions of people in the province and the country as a whole.
Ahmad Shah Karimi contributed reporting.
In the third series of biographies covering the newly elected members of the Afghan parliament, this time, Reporterly is looking into the lives of three new lawmakers from Bamyan and Farah provinces.
Mohammad Rahim Aliyar from Bamyan province
Mohammad Rahim Aliyar is the son of a commander of the Afghan Jihad and Resistance, Baba Aliyar. He was born in 1968 in Yakawlang district of Bamyan Province.
Aliyar completed his elementary education at his birthplace and completed his higher education in the field of religious sciences and his university graduate degree in law in Qom Iran.
After finishing his studies, he returned to Bamyan and taught students as a teacher at the Nitaq High School in Yakawalang for three years. He also worked at the front of Jihad and Resistance during this period.
Aliyar started his activities on the Front of Jihad and Resistance within the Hizbe Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan as the cultural head of the Khatam-ol-Anbia base in Yakawlang district. In 1994, on the orders of the leader of Hizbe Wahdat Abdul Ali Mazari, he entered Kabul to defend his people. Until the defeat of Kabul’s western resistance and Mazari’s killing, he fought in the frontlines.
With the death of Mazari and the shift of the resistance front to Bamyan, he remained active on the resistance front.
After the 9/11, the fall of the Taliban and the beginning of the new era, Aliyar was appointed as the governor of Bamyan province until 2004.
After this assignment, Aliyar has continued to be one of the key political figures in Bamyan and has continued his political activities within Hizbe Wahdat. He served as the head of political committee of the party, and since 2012 he has served as the deputy chairman and the head of the Hizb-e Wahdat-e Islami Mardom-e Afghanistan for Central Zone.
But now Mohammad Rahim Aliyar is a new figure who is elected from Bamiyan.
“Given the fragile situation of politics, economics, culture, education, everyone is required to work for a healthy society and the rights of the people, and it is the responsibility of all of us to fight for these causes and I am also present in the House of Representatives to fulfil this responsibility “, he told Reporterly when asked about his motivation to work as a member of parliament.
Nikbakht Fahimi from Bamyan Province
Nikbakht Fahimi, daughter of General Mohammad Nader Fahimi, was born in Waras district of Bamyan province in 1988.
She completed her elementary education in Waras district and her secondary education in Kabul and completed high school in Jawzjan province.
Ms. Fahimi was an undergraduate student at Bamyan University in 2005 and in 2008 she graduated from the University with a degree in Agriculture.
After graduating from the University of Bamyan, she started to work as a lecturer at Bamyan University.
After three years, Ms. Fahimi went to Iran to continue her graduate studies at the University of Tarbiat Modarres.
The young lawmaker completed her master’s degree in agriculture in 2014 and upon her return to Afghanistan continued to teach at the Bamiyan University.
But now, after spending a long time teaching, she run for parliamentary elections and managed to be among the those women who were able to get elected with high votes.
“With regards to the problems of the Bamyan people, I want to be a voice of my people in the parliament who can solve their problems even at a minor scale because I have lived among these people, I have been aware of their problems and can express it well for the government” she told Reporterly.
Abdul Sattar Hussaini from Farah province
Abdul Sattar Hussaini was born in 1972 in Farah province. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Herat in political science and is one of newly elected MPs from Farah.
Hussaini joined military school in 1985. During the war between the government and Mujahedeen, he was forced to flee the homeland but returned to the country after two years. Hussaini settled in Nimruz after the collapse of the Taliban, after which he moved to Farah province and started working in the police.
He was appointed to the Public Opinion department of the Farah Provincial Police Headquarters, and then received a scholarship for young officers in the United States, being among 45 out of a total of 1,200 applicants, to have obtained it.
After completing studies in the United States, he returned to the country and served at the Department of Basic Investigations of the counter-narcotic department, Ministry of Interior for two years. After that, Hussaini was in charge of the intelligence unit of police for the frontier zone in Herat.
“The people of Farah province wisely voted for the right candidates and those who succeeded to enter the parliament from Farah have honestly served the people,” Hussaini said about the parliamentary election in Farah province.
“The reason that I chose to be a lawmaker in the House of Representatives was the responsibility that I felt. People like me are in charge to protect the rights of the citizens of this land,” he told Reporterly bout his motivation to enter the parliament.
In continuation of a series of biographies covering the newly elected members of the Afghan parliament, this time Reporterly is looking into the lives of six new lawmakers from Daikundi, Kapisa and Zabul provinces.
However, despite the announcement of the final parliamentary results for 18 provinces, the fate of the final results of parliamentary elections in 15 provinces is still unclear.
Ali Akbar Jamshidi from Daikundi Province
Ali Akbar Jamshidi was born in 1974 and is now 44 years old. He was born in Sangtakht district of Daikundi Province. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations Department of Political Science and is now a graduate student.
Mr. Jamshidi has previously served as a senator, and he told Reporterly about the holding of the elections in the province: “The election we had behind in Daikundi, despite the challenges and problems, was fairly transparent and witnessed security and monitoring ensured by locals but there were some technical problems, such as malfunction of biometric devices, which slowed down the process and some other problems that we hope to be resolved in the next elections. ”
In 2009, he was a candidate for the Provincial Council elections and was successful in winning a seat, after which he was nominated for the Senate and received a sufficient number of votes to enter the upper house of parliament. He worked as a senator from Daikundi Province until 2014.
But what motivated Mr Jamshidi to run for parliamentary elections was the limited authority of the Senate. Jamshidi decided to participate in parliamentary elections to serve and work for deprived people in his province.
Before getting into the Senate and the House of Representatives, he chose a clear path in his professional life in the winter of 2002 after the Taliban era. He was working to build schools in northern Daikondi and had established many schools in the areas such as Sangtakht, Bandar, Ashtarlay and Khidir, which was then part of Uruzgan Province. Jamshidi was the principal of the schools in Sangtakht and Bandar districts of Daikundi Province from 2004 to 2009.
He also worked with the Reform and Convergence Team in the 2014 presidential elections and served as an advisor to the chief executive from 2015 to 2017 but was subsequently dismissed.
He hails from one of the deprived areas of the Daikundi province, in which the government has not paid any attention towards the spheres of education, health and citizenship services. But now Mr. Ali Akbar Jamshidi is trying to improve the situation of this province in cooperation with his colleagues.
Khadija Elham Khalili from Kapisa Province
Khadija Elham Khalili is one of the new lawmakers who has come to the Afghan parliament from Kapisa province and was an independent candidate.
Elham Khalili was born 29 years ago in Kapisa and she earned her bachelor’s degree in medical science and master’s degree in management.
The motivation of this young woman to enter the Afghan politics laid in strive for a real service to the people of Kapisa. Referring to the main problems in the province, such as unemployment of 80 percent among the young people in Kapisa, Ms. Khalili told Reporterly that she wants to do more for her province .
She pledges, as the representative of the Kapisa Province, to make major changes in the province and Afghanistan and tries to focus on empowering women.
Khadija Elham Khalili is satisfied with the vote she has received and is pleased about how parliamentary elections were held in Kapisa province.
She expressed her satisfaction with the massive turnout, especially women’s, on the Election Day, and told Reporterly: “Despite the many problems and challenges that existed in this province and three districts were insecure, women attended the polling significantly.”
She also expressed resentment with the situation in the election commissions and noted that “no one from the election commissions has ever asked me for money.”
Khadija Elham has worked with Administrative Office of The President, Department of Monitoring and Evaluation & the Presidential Decrees Follow-up before her candidature to the Afghan Parliament. She also served as a medical doctor in Kapisa province, during which period, she would visit the patients for free, two days a week in order to help them.
It should not be left out that Ms. Khalili has established a school in this province as well as literacy classes for women, apart from creating courses for farmers and farmworkers to plant saffron instead of poppy cultivation.
Mir Haidar Afzali from Kapisa Province
Engineer Mir haidar Afzali was born in 1988 in Kapisa province. He graduated from Ghulam Haidar Khan high school in Kabul province, and in 2005, went to Kabul Polytechnic University.
In 2012, he earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering and in 2015 completed his master’s degree in Islamic Azad University, Kabul Branch, in management.
Engineer Afzali has been involved with the community since his time as a civil and social activist and is also a leading member of Youth Coherence Organization in Kapisa.
He has participated in various leadership training programs inside the country and abroad, such as Japan, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Afzali has also won enough votes in the current parliamentary elections and has entered the House of Representatives.
Prior to this, he worked in various governmental and nongovernmental institutions. Mr. Afzali, in 2011, set up a construction and engineering company called Atlas Kohistan, and was the chairman of the company for four years. The company has completed several construction projects in the provinces of Kapisa, Parwan, Bamiyan and Kabul.
He also worked as an Infrastructure Development Specialist in 2015 in the Mahmudraqi municipality, capital of Kapisa province, after which, in 2016, he was appointed as the head of Treasury Department of the Administrative Office of the President. After that, he was also appointed as the deputy and acting director of the Municipality’s Construction Control Department since the year 2017 on the basis of the proposal of the Kabul Municipality and the decree of the President of Afghanistan.
“For various reasons, I decided to be in the House of Representatives, and these reasons all sprout from the life of people and their challenges. I try to reduce these problems to the best of my capacity,” said Mr. Afzali, about his motivation to engage in Afghanistan politics.
Abdul Qadir Qalatwal from Zabul Province
Abdul Qadir Qalatwal, 54, was born in Zabul in 1964. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Mr. Qalatwal is entering house of representative for the second time as the representative of the Zabul province.
He has been the chief of staff and spokesman for the ministry of telecommunication before moving on to the politics. He was also a presenter for Afghanistan National Television for over 29 years.
Abdul Qadir Qalatwal is also pleased with the parliamentary election process in Zabul province, saying it was transparent. Speaking to Reporterly, he said: “Although we were experiencing technical problems, people were overwhelmingly present at the polls.”
He argues that his presence in the Afghan parliament would give him the opportunity to serve more for his people, because he says despite the fact that all of Afghanistan has many problems, Zabul has not received any privileges from the government since its establishment as other provinces have.
He continued to mention other problems, such as low educational levels for women in Zabul.
Mr. Qalatwal has plans for the next round of his career in the parliament, as he intends to implement each one according to his prioritization throughout his new term.
Zahra Tookhi from Zabul province
Zahra Tokhi, a familiar face from the 16th term of the Afghan House of Representatives, has also been able to return to parliament in the wake of the votes of the people of Zabul province for her.
Ms. Tookhi, 48, was born in Nowkhez village of Zabul province. In 1986, she graduated from the Bibi Khal high school in Zabul and then earned her bachelor’s degree in somatology from the University of Kazakhstan in 2005.
Zahra Tookhi has served as chairwoman of the women’s council of Zabul province in 1987 after a year of teaching in 1988. She was then elected as a member of the Wolesi Jirga of Afghanistan during the government of Dr. Najibullah.
Ms. Tookhi migrated to Pakistan in the course of the war and then moved to Kazakhstan and then finally returned to Afghanistan in 2005.
“In all the provinces, especially Zabul, problems were undeniable. Although there was relative transparency, there was still fraud, and the election challenges were obvious,” she explained in an interview with Reporterly.
Her motivation behind stepping into politics comes from her childhood, when her grandfather was a senator of his time and fond of politics.
Although Zakhra speaks of her previous activities, she continues to emphasize that in the new term, she wants to do more work for the people of Zabul, especially the women of the province, who are struggling with local and provincial problems.
She noted that in Zabul there are many fictitious schools in some districts, and there is actually no place for the boys and girls to get an education.
Hamidullah Tookhi from Zabul Province
Hamidullah Tookhi has been elected to the parliament for the third time as a representative of Zabul.
He was the Afghan politician and representative of the people of Zabul province during the fifteenth and sixteenth terms of the House of Representatives. Mr. Tookhi has been a member of the Commission of the Martyrs and Disabled in the 16th term of the lower house of the parliament as well.
Hamidullah Tookhi was born in 1962 in Zabul province. He graduated from the Sheikh Mati high school in 1978, then joined the Mujahideen fronts. Mr. Tookhi served as governor of Zabul from 2002 to 2004 and later for three months as governor of Maidan Wardak province.
During the Afghan Jihad period, he was one of the mujahedeen commanders and subsequently served as commander of Zabul’s 27th division.
He says the wish of people of Zabul province is the reason he is in the parliament. “All people contacted me and wanted me to be a candidate from this province. Now it is my third time representing people in the House of Representatives. ”
Zabul province is one of those insecure provinces in the southern Afghanistan, most of which has been in the Taliban’s control for the last 16 years. Along with insecurity, drought is another challenge for people living in this province. Now Hamidullah Tookhi is determined to come up with different programs than previous terms.
This coverage is a part of a series of stories covered by Reporterly to feature brief profiles and journey of all the newly elected members of the house.
Although electoral candidates faced many challenges in various provinces of Afghanistan, especially in Parwan and Farah, new lawmakers from these provinces claim the the elections to be fairly transparent and are pleased with the biometrics of the majority of eligible voters in these provinces.
In the final list of the parliamentary results by Independent Electoral Commission, six people from Parwan province and five from Farah province have entered the parliament, among whom some new representatives can be seen.
Representatives from these provinces who have been able to receive their credentials from the House of Representatives are talking about problems that some of the candidates for the parliamentary elections used to resort to, like money and force in order to collect votes.
One of the lawmakers of this period from Parwan province is Zakia Sangin, who has been present in the House of Representatives on behalf of the people of this province.
Zakia was born in 1978. She graduated from the Hora Jalali High School in 1991 and graduated from the Parwan Teacher Training College in 2005. Zakia Sangin has earned a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Parwan in 2007.
Ms. Sangin has served as a teacher with Istiqlal and Malalai High School in Kabul for ten years, as principal of Hora Jalali High School for a year, as a cadre member in the Ministry of Education’s Department of Educational Supervision for three years, as trainer in teacher’s capacity building program, and also served in human rights and health education during resistance period. Ms. Sangin is also the founder of the Sayadan girls high school, in which more than 1,000 girls are now receiving education.
Although she is aware of the harsh and violent Afghan political scene, she again nominated herself to represent the people and is struggling to make a change in Afghanistan despite many security concerns.
“I do not have a house in Kabul and spend most of my time in Parwan with my family and with the people living in Parwan,” Ms. Sangin told Reporterly.
Considering her activities in previous term, and the fact that she scored the highest votes among 11 female candidates, she will be the only female lawmaker from Parwan who will represent people of this province.
Zakia Sangin was a member of the Finance and Budget Commission of the Afghan Parliament in the past term and had been active in public accounting, legislation, monitoring of regulations and implementation of projects in Parwan province.
She had been a representative of public work projects for the province with her efforts to improve the living conditions and facilities in Parwan province. Ms. Sangin has also been selected for the Deputy Finance and Budget Commission of the House of Representatives in the new term.
Abdul Zaher Salangi
Abdul Zahir Salangi was one of the parliamentary candidates who entered the house of representatives for the first time in the Parwan province.
Abdul Zaher Salangi was born in 1974 in Salang district of Parwan province, and after graduating from school in 1994, he joined Mujahideen units to become experienced in warfare.
“During the jihad, I was fighting at the front alongside the Mujahideen and with the arrival of the Islamic regime, I became an officer and worked at the National Security Office until the arrival of the Taliban,” Abdul Zahir Salangi told Reporterly. “I continued to work during the resistance period and during the interim and transitional government, I was the commander of the battalions in the Salang district. Then, after the fragmentation of the Mujahideen arm in 2005, I worked in the new system.”
Having found an opportunity to learn, he studied and graduated from the Dari literature in Parwan University night school in 2006.
Mr. Salangi in 2005 was also a candidate for the Parwan Provincial Council. He ran for provincial council elections in three terms, all three of which he succeeded in. Mr. Salangi was Vice-Chairman of the Provincial Council of Parwan in two terms, and now he has been elected as a lawmaker in the new House of Representatives. He is also a member of the Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan.
Mr. Salangi’s motivation to enter the political scene has is rooted in the problems of the people of Parwan. Seeing the challenges that the people of this province face, he has turned to politics and is trying to make a change in this regard.
His priority as an MP is to create jobs, to work with the government to enforce the laws in the same way on all strata of the community and to provide more security.
Belqis is the only woman among the five winners of the parliamentary elections in Farah province.
Belqis Roshan was born in 1973 in Farah province. She graduated from Farah teacher training college, and has also earned a Bachelor of Law from the University of Kabul.
Belqis was previously a member of Afghan Senate from the provincial council, but now she has been elected as a lawmaker of the people of Farah province in the House of Representatives.
Ms. Roshan has worked as a teacher and a member of Farah Provincial Council and has also worked with NGOs.
“People who like Afghanistan and see the hardships of the people and, like myself, have had to migrate to Pakistan and Iran have seen misfortunes, and believe in standing and fighting,” she said, pointing out that it is still hard to bring women to the political scene in a country like Afghanistan.
The passion of Belqis is tied with a strong will that can be understood in her voice too.
She has come to the new term of Afghan House of Representatives to work on the security and the women rights as well as their empowerment.
According to Belqis, Afghan women are strong; they should only be their supporters and respect their rights. She says that in this new term, she will try to make a change in her own capacity in the Afghan House of Representatives.
Abdullah Ahmadzai is the former head of The Independent Election Commission secretariat and is currently the Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Afghanistan. He oversaw the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections at a time when resources were scarce. Mr Ahmadzai has also served in the UN in Joint Electoral Management Body Secretariat (JEMBS), as an Area Manager and subsequently as Chief of Operations. Having been involved in the Afghanistan Constitution Commission in 2001, Mr Ahmadzai deeply understands the legally-relevant technicalities of the electoral process.
As an election expert, he believes that the peace negotiation and the election processes should facilitate each other and that peace talks should at least be able to pave the way for a multi-day ceasefire in the days leading up to the presidential election. He also believes that the country can use some fundamental electoral reforms which are devoid of a political preference in nature.
Reporterly conducted an interview with Mr. Ahmadzai at his office in Kabul.
Reporterly: If you agree to start with the parliamentary elections. You are witnessing the recent invalidation of Kabul constituency’s ballots by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission. In your opinion, what does the invalidation of votes mean in such a large constituency like Kabul? Was the fraud so widespread or are there another issues behind that?
Ahmadzai: Regarding the parliamentary elections, I have to say that overall, despite the technical and managerial problems, elections provide a good opportunity for the political leadership of the electoral commissions, electoral partners, civil society, political parties and finally, for all these actors, a good opportunity to learn from what happens during the elections. Using the 2018 parliamentary election experience, electoral commissioners can better manage the next elections.
In response to the question as to why ballots in a constituency, such as Kabul, are declared invalidated- in my opinion, if we consider only the legal aspects of the election, the electoral law makes it clear that the IECC is a specific part of the electoral justice. They have the right to invalidate a constituency’s votes if they have sufficient evidence of widespread fraud. However, the electoral law says that after the invalidation of ballots, the IEC is required to hold the election again in the same constituency within seven days.
But the second point is that, along with the legal considerations, are the evidences collected by the IECC are sufficient to invalidate the ballots of such a large constituency? Are the evidences conforming to all 3,400 polling stations in Kabul? IECC has collected 1,100 complaints from Kabul, which is less than one-third of all ballots cast in Kabul. To invalidate the ballots of all polling stations, IECC should have had enough evidence of fraud from each polling station and shared their investigative report with people, and then should have made such a decision on a constituency.
Reporterly: You have seen that electoral commissions have had serious disagreements since the start of the election process, even during the registration process. In your opinion, is the reason for these disagreements “the commissioners”, or there are problems with responsibilities and authorities?
Ahmadzai: According to law, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission has no place in the constitution. But in the electoral law, the position of this commission is quite clear, its responsibilities and authorities have been defined -which is, dealing with the electoral complaints. The reason for the disagreement is the lack of coordination between the two institutions. And secondly, the IECC is faced with a dilemma whether they observe the electoral process or judge this process. These two should not be confused with one another because an institution cannot be a judge and an observer simultaneously.
Reporterly: How damaging can these disagreements between electoral commissions be for people’s confidence in a democratic process?
Ahmadzai: We expected the members of the electoral commissions that they would increase the legitimacy of this process by working closely with each other in a responsible and insightful manner. But unfortunately, the misunderstanding that emerged between these two electoral commissions diminished the credibility of the commissions and the legitimacy of the electoral process in public opinion. One of the questions that The Asia Foundation, in its annual research, asks people is about their confidence in government institutions which also encompasses the IEC. In the early days of the registration process, when the registration centers were opened in the villages, based on our surveys, the level of people’s confidence in the IEC was very high. But if another one to be conducted, the level of people’s confidence in IEC will be significantly low considering its performance. If these controversies persist, it can finally drag the level of people’s confidence in the election process to a level that no one will ever go to the polls, because they can no longer trust such a commission.
Reporterly: A number of electoral observer institutions have announced that election commissions should stop working. Meanwhile, the vote counting process of the Kabul is halted due to the recent decision to invalidate the Kabul’s ballot by IECC. What solution do you propose as an electoral expert considering the current situation?
Ahmadzai: The decision to invalidate votes has somehow hurt the legitimacy of the Afghan parliamentary election, but reconsidering this decision is another damage. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) had stopped counting the ballot yesterday due to the absence of IECC’s observers. According to the election commission, votes should be counted in the presence of the IECC observers. While I think such a belief is wrong. As I said before, IECC is responsible for judging the electoral process, not for monitoring.
Therefore, resuming the counting of votes will depend on the transparency of the process. My suggestion is to start counting the votes that were cast on election day. Of course, it should be counted with vigorous oversight by election observer institutions, and the results should be announced to the public.
Reporterly: Do you think the announcement of such a result would be acceptable for electoral partners?
Ahmadzai: This will be reflected in the transparency of the process and the management of electoral commissions. It is clear that with a large number of candidates, 90 percent of whom includes those who cannot enter the parliament. Additionally, due to lack of political maturity in Afghanistan, we also do not expect all the losing candidates to accept the elections’ result. But the basic condition is that the IEC’s clear management and accountability should mark the results and there is no losing candidate to come up with an evidence to challenge the outcome of the election. This means that if the candidate’s numbers are different from the figures provided by the commission, then we will face a deadlock in legitimacy. We hope that this deadlock will be prevented and the commission will manage the process in a transparent manner.
Reporterly: If you allow, may we discuss another important era that is expected to start soon-the presidential elections. The IEC, according to a calendar scheduled for presidential elections, announced the date of the election for next spring, how practical do you think this calendar is?
Ahmadzai: It’s not practical at all. I was surprised as the same calendar is currently under discussion. Considering the management of the electoral process in a country like Afghanistan where the process of registration is also included, as well as the security challenges and the concerns over the voters’ turnout in the election, and all of these issues, we need more than eight months to plan for such an election. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to hold the presidential election. In the four remaining months, we only expect the electoral commissions to resolve the challenges of the parliamentary elections and finalize it.
Reporterly: Along the technical and managerial challenges facing the presidential election, how many other issues, such as peace talks and the challenges of the parliamentary elections, affect the calendar of the election?
Ahmadzai: Parliamentary elections itself has a direct impact on the presidential elections’ calendar. But both technically and politically, once parliament is established and begins its work – which we hope to occur before the presidential election – parliamentarians may have some preconditions for managing the presidential election, given the experience of previous elections. But peace talks and presidential elections, in my opinion, should facilitate each other. The peace process should lead to elections and the elections should lead to peace.
But my expectation, as an Afghan, is that if we reach a two-sided ceasefire agreement in the peace talks, at least in the days of the presidential election, in this case, the presidential elections will be accompanied by clear management, better legitimacy and adequate supervision.
Reporterly: As you know, the heads of NUG have stated that there will be no disruption during the presidential election. What do you think is necessary to hold the elections during this little time we have?
Ahmadzai: I do not doubt the will of the timely elections among political leaders. But in practical terms, there is no technical and managerial preparation. Therefore, such an election calendar is not practical in terms of management.
As you are concerned, there is no guarantee to close the Afghan parliamentary election chapter. It is unclear when the parliament will begin to work so that the IEC can focus more on the presidential election from a managerial point of view. Another issue is the question of how much the peace talks could have a positive or negative effect on the electoral calendar. All these are the questions we are waiting as an Afghan citizen to be answered.
Reporterly: Mr. Ahmadzai as you know, parliamentary elections were not held in Ghazni province and now, as it seems, the conduction of parliamentary elections in Ghazni is not taken seriously by the election commission. In your opinion, what is the solution to election deadlock in this province?
Ahmadzai: It is the government’s mission to hold elections in Ghazni province, as it was held in the other 33 provinces of Afghanistan. On the other hand, the same electoral system intended for 33 provinces should be considered in Ghazni as well, unless a consensus or other major political decision is reached in the administrative units of the province. From the point of view of the law and legitimacy of the parliament, there is no reason to postpone the Ghazni elections.
Reporterly: What is the legal justification for differentiating between Ghazni province and other provinces in holding parliamentary elections?
Ahmadzai: Ghazni elections are part of the election just like the other provinces during the same election and the same period. So we cannot have a double standard to have a different electoral system in Ghazni. So if elections in other provinces of Afghanistan are based on the SNTV system (Single non-transferable vote), elections in Ghazni should be based on the same system.
As a person responsible for managing the election process in all provinces of Afghanistan including Ghazni in 2010, I emphasize that this does not have a technical and electoral solution. The solution that the politician is measuring should not be based on the technical and electoral aspects. A political dialogue should be launched between the politicians to discuss the administrative structure in Ghazni province in order to portray the political representation of the province to the Afghan parliament on the basis of its social realities.
Reporterly: Let’s discuss another chapter of elections in Afghanistan. As you know, the work of the electoral commissions was criticized from the very beginning. In your opinion, where have these commissions, especially IEC, failed?
Ahmadzai: Unfortunately, Afghanistan spent the opportunity they had, to work on electoral laws on political preferences rather than on electoral reform. We have waited for three years since the establishment of the National Unity Government to reach a conclusion on bringing changes to the election law and the electoral process, but when we weigh these reforms in a bigger picture, it has been mostly political preferences than fundamental reforms.
The first thing they did was to replace the Independent Election Commission members and made a mechanism for selecting the commissioners in which various institutions, including civil society organizations, would take part in the selection of commissioners, which itself was a conflict of interest. How can civil society, which is a monitoring institution also select the members of IEC? I think it’s too early in Afghanistan to focus on the mechanism of appointments. What’s more important is the political consensus on the commissioners. Reaching a political consensus in appointment of the commissioners will make the people trust this commission. So one of the major challenges faced with the government in terms of elections was the issue of appointments.
The second problem is that the politicians, instead of reaching an understanding and consensus on the electoral system, passed it to IEC, which, in my opinion, was a mistake. Similarly, the materials added to the crime section of the electoral law were something that would not heal the pain of this nation. The discussion should have been focused on how we can strengthen the political management of the elections, what are the obligations for political leadership of this country and for politicians as electoral partners not only to play their part in the legitimacy of the elections, but also those politicians who are treating the electoral process irresponsibly hold themselves accountable. In the last six elections, the only institution and officials who have been constantly questioned is the electoral commissions and their members, but there has never been a prosecution for the politician’s irresponsible acts toward electoral process.
Reporterly: What technical challenges does the commission face apart from the political challenges you have mentioned?
Ahmadzai: Overall, there has been no focus on strengthening the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Technically speaking, the balance of power or authority between the election commission secretariat and the policymakers themselves who are the commissioners, has not been taken into consideration. Those who are policymakers, have been given executive powers and, on the other hand, those (the secretariat), who should hold executive power, have been treated more as a secretary. Or in another example, the spokesman for the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) is one of the commissioners, which still brings a conflict of interest; because when a person who is a spokesperson for an institution and at the same time has the right to vote, even if they have voted against something and that issue has been approved by a majority vote, how would you expect such a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the Commission and favour that decision? So there is a conflict of interest in most cases, and there was no focus on it when electoral laws were modified. Unfortunately, the changes made to the electoral law do not reflect an electoral mindfulness but mostly the political preferences.
Reportedly: Given the challenges facing the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the electoral process, what is your vision of the next year’s presidential election?
Ahmadzai: Presidential elections have usually been the most controversial election in Afghanistan, but if some measures are put in place and we focus on opportunities and use the past election experience, then I think we can have a better election.
First of all, I have to say that previously (at least since 2009), the result of our presidential election has been largely managed by the political influence and political mediation of the international community and domestic politics. Accepting the election results requires a political maturity, which unfortunately our politicians have not shown in the past. So the chance is that, even for the first time, we would manage the election internally as a nation.
Secondly, the creation of electoral tickets that can represent the structural realities of the country. The healthy structure of these tickets can relatively avert the tensions.
On one hand, since 2009, the experiences have shown that it hardly happens for a candidate to win a decisive majority vote in the first round. So the second round of elections is always a possibility; a great possibility. If we are faced with a situation where our electoral tickets for the presidential election are based on inclusion, then in the second round of elections, we are concerned about the ethnic nature of the electoral process, because over the past 16 years, we have made the political-ethnic considerations less significant. But if we do not pay more attention to creating electoral tickets and have an ethnic perception towards it, this is a matter of concern. Because even if it is not ethnic in the first round, ethnic considerations will be more serious in the second round, but national tickets can prevent such a scenario.
Other challenges facing the presidential election are peace talks and the challenge of insecurity in Afghanistan. Again, I emphasize that the only reasonable solution in this regard is that the armed insurgents and the Afghan government would reach a few days of ceasefire in the days leading up to the presidential election.
Cautious performance in large electoral decisions that can influence people’s confidence in the electoral process. Also, planned election campaigns are among other things to be considered by stakeholders. The political consciousness in this country has risen sharply and people are thirsty for the plans that are being offered by the political leaders.
Reporterly: So what do you think should be done so that at least the people of Afghanistan do not witness the repetition of the 2014 election crisis?
Ahmadzai: Sharing information with people with the necessary transparency. One thing we faced in this year’s parliamentary election was the vagueness of the election management. People cannot be convinced of just a news conference after mistakes made by the electoral authorities. These institutions should have a more responsible engagement with such cases. Responsible engagement will increase the confidence of the people in organizing elections.
Right now, the people, and in particular the parliamentary candidates, do not know how the electoral results have reached the IEC headquarters in Kabul, how are they being managed, where are these documents and how much progress is made every day?! It has been more than a month and a half since the parliamentary elections took place now, but so far no sufficient information has been shared at least with the electoral partners. So my suggestion is that the Independent Election Commission should share the information honestly with people in order to make people believe that the commission is truthful in its work.
Another issue is that the election organizers should avoid “the last-minute decisions”. For me, the most surprising decision in the days before the parliamentary elections was that they included biometric devices in the electoral process. We should not look for technical solutions to problems that are rooted in our society.
The key issue is not how to prevent fraud and add more locks; the discussion must be focused more on why our people do not have enough confidence over democratic processes and why they are not coming to the polls as expected considering the large number of voters in Afghanistan?! We need to focus on how to invest in this social dimension, rather than just adding technical tools, and discouraging those who have already participated, rather than encouraging others to participate in the election as well.
Reporterly: What is the role of the international community, the Afghan government, political parties and leaders in holding transparent elections in sync with the election commissions?
Ahmadzai: All responsibility should not be left to the electoral commissioners, in a way that others just wait for the commission to offer these services! The approach taken by the electoral partners so far has been the same with high expectations of the commission. But unfortunately, there is little clarity and accountability about the share that electoral partners should play in the electoral process.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has announced the parliamentary elections’ preliminary results for 25 provinces so far, results of the latest 5 being declared on Monday evening, December 10.
Based on these results, Ghulam Abbas Ebrahimzada, Abdul Hamid Sharifi, Ahmad Shah Ramazan, Mohammad Ali Mohaqiq, Alamkhan Azadi, Sayed Zahir Masroor, Abdolkhaliq, Gol Rahman Hamdard, Saifura Niazi, Fawzia Hamidi and Breshna Rabi are set to enter the House of Representatives from Balkh province.
Also, Hashmatullah Arman, Mohammad Rasul Faryabi, Mohammad Hashim Khan, Sayed Babur Jamal, Sanjar Kargar, Mohammad Anwar Bashliq, Rangina Kargar, Shafiqa Sakha Yolchi and Fawzi Raufi from Faryab Province and Mohammad Ismaeil Seddiqi, Wafiullah Iftekhar, Mohammad Asif Nabizai and Homa Ahmadi from Logar Province have bagged most votes of the people in these two provinces.
In Badakhshan province, Abdul Rauf Anami, Abdul Shukur Waqif Hakimi, Hujatullah Kheradmand, Abdulwali Niazi, Zabihullah Atiq, Fazl Azim Zalmai Mojaddadi, Ahmadzia Yaftali, Niloofar Ebrahimi and Sadeqa Adib are among the winners of the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has announced the parliamentary elections’ preliminary results of 25 provinces.
From Paktika province, Mohammad Mirza katawazi, Mohammad Daoud katawazi, Nader Khan katawazi and Hila Mojtaba, have bagged most of the votes of the people in preliminary results.
According to the timetable which was scheduled by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) for the parliamentary elections, the preliminary results of all the provinces were supposed to be announced on November 23 and the preliminary results of Kabul on December 1. But the Independent Election Commission is not even done with the the announcement of preliminary results for other provinces.
Who did people vote for?
The findings of Reporterly from the preliminary results of parliamentary elections in 25 provinces of Afghanistan show that a large percentage of winners in this list are new entrants. 6 provinces had introduced completely new Members of Parliament to the house, while in 11 provinces of Afghanistan, the number of first-time elects has doubled as compared to the number of re-elected representatives in the Parliament; and in six other provinces, the number of new winners is equal to the re-elected representatives.
The findings also show that in only two provinces of Afghanistan, namely Zabul and Parwan, the number of re-elected legislators was higher than newcomers.
Six Provinces with Completely New MPs:
All four MPs-elect of Logar are first-time elects in the preliminary results. These are Mohammad Ismael Sediqi, Wafiullah Iftekhar, Engineer Mohammad Asif Nabizai and Homa Ahmadi.
The preliminary results show that all MPs-elect of Jawzjan province are also new faces. Babur Dostum, Baktash Ishchi, Mohammad Karim Jawzjani, Azizullah Alghati and Halima Sadaf Karimi, are five new members of the Afghan parliament from Jawzjan province.
Farah is also one of the provinces that has introduced new representatives to the Afghan parliament. Homayun Shahidzada, Abdul Sattar Hossaini, Abdul Naseer Farahi, Abdul Jalil Bakhtaor and Belqis Roshan are among the five new MPs-elect based on the preliminary results.
Besmillah Jan Mohammad, Qodratullah Rahimi and Anusha Barakzai are three new MPs-elect from Uruzgan.
The share of Nuristan province is only two representatives both of whom are new figures in the preliminary results. Abdullah Nuristani and Dr. Zahida Fayzan are two representatives who bagged most votes in Nuristan.
Representatives of Badghis province are also new the preliminary results announced by the commission. Ziauddin Akazi, Abdul Basir Osmani, Amir Shah Nayebzada and Ustad Farida Begzad are four MPs-elect from the province.
11 provinces with most new MPs-elect:
Maidan Wardak: (3 new, 2 re-elected)
New: Abdul Rahman Wardak, Mahdi Rasekh, Halima Askari
Re-elected: Engineer Hamida Akbari, Abdul Ahmad Durrani.
Bamian: (4 new, 1 re-elected)
New: Mohammad Rahim Aliyar, Zahiruddin Jan Agha and Nikbakht Fahimi.
Re-elected: Sayyed Mohammad Jamal Fakuri Beheshti
Paktika: (3 new, 1 re-elected)
New: Mohammad Mirza Katawazi, Mohammad Daud Katawazi and Hila Mojtaba
Re-elected: Nadar Khan Katawazi
Khost: (3 new, 2 re-elected )
New: Engineer Helmand Helmand, Ghaffar Khan, Dr. Mohammad Musa Khawari
Re-elected: Sahera Sharif and Kamal Naser Osuli
Badakhshan: (6 new, 4 re-elected)
New: Abdul Shakur Waqif Hakimi, Hujjatullah Kheradmand, Maulawi Zabiullah Atiq, Dr. Ahmadzia Yaftali and Sadeqa Adib.
Re-elected: Abdul Rauf Anami, Abdulwali Niazi, Fazl Azim Zalami Mojjaddi and Niloofar Ebrahimi
Takhar: (7 new, 2 re-elected )
New: Abdullah Beg, Mohammad Alem Saie, Engineer Amir Mohammad Khaksar, Dr. Sayed Eshrafuddin Aini, Ghulam Sarwar Sadat, Dr. Hamduddin Yuldash, Nazif Yusufbeg
Re-elected: Rayis Abdul Baqi Malikzada and Habiba Danish.
Samangan: (3 new, 1 re-elected)
New: Hayatullah Samangani, Ziauddin Zia, Mahbuba Rahmat.
Re-elected: Makhdoom Abdalellah Mohammadi.
Balkh: (7 new , 4 re-elected )
New : Abdul Hamid Sharifi, Mohammad Ali Mohaqiq, Alamkhan Azadi, Sayed Zahir Masroor, Rayis Abdul Khaleq, Gol Rahman Hamdard and Fawzia Hamidi.
Re-elected : Ghulam Abbas Ibrahimzada, Saifura Niazi, Ahmad Shah Ramazan and Breshna Rabi.
Sar-e-Pul: (4 new, 2 re-elected )
New : Mohammad Akbar Sultanzada, Dr. Asadullah Ayubi, Al Haj Hamidullah Beg.
Re-elected: Sayed Mohammad Hasan Sharifi Balkhabi, Aziza Jalis
Ghor: (4 new, 2 re-elected )
New : Ata Mohammad Dehqanpur, Gul Zaman Nayeb, Kramuddin Rezazada and Fatema Kohistani
Re-elected: Mohammad Ibrahim Malikzada and Roqia Nael
Faryab: (6 new, 3 re-elected )
New : Hashmatullah Arman, Mohammad Rasul Faryabi, Sayed Babur Jamal, Sanjar Kargar, Mohammad Anwar Bashliq and Shafiq Sakha Yulchi.
Re-elected: Mohammad Hashim Khan, Rangina Kargar and Fawzia Raufi.
6 provinces where new entrants made up half of the MPs-elect :
Kapisa: (2 new, 2 re-elected)
New: Mir Haidar Afzali, Khadija Elham Khalili
Re-elected: Mirdad Nejrabi, Mohammad Iqbal Safi
Laghman: (2 new , 2 re-elected )
New : Gen. Abdul Monir Tarhakhel, Mohammad Rafi Mamuzi
Re-elected : Mohammad Alam Qarar, Al-Haj Zeifonun Safi
Panjsher: (1 new, 1 re-elected)
New: Haji Zol Mohammad Zalami Noori
Re-elected: Qazi Rahela Salim
Nimruz: (1 new, 1 re-elected)
New: Gol Ahmad Noorzad
Re-elected: Farida Hamidi
Kunar: (2 new , 2 re-elected )
New : Jawid Sapai, Ustad Nematullah Karyab
Re-elected: Wazhma Sapai and Maulawi Shahzada Shahid
Daikundi: (3 new , 2 re-elected )
New : Sayed Mohammad Daud Naseri, Rayhana Azad, Ali Akbar Jamshidi
Re-elected: Shirin Mohseni
2 provinces with most re-elected MPs:
Parwan: (2 new , 4 re-elected )
New: Abdulaziz Homayoun Harirood, Zahir Salangi
Re-elected: Al Haj Mir Rahman Rahmani, Sediq Ahmad Osmani, Zakia Sangin, Samea Azizi Sadat
Zabul: (1 new face, 2 re-elected )
New: Hamidullah Tokhi
Re-elected : Abdul Qadir Qalatwal and Zahran Tokhi.
Hamed Ahmadi contributed reporting.
In the Afghan parliamentary elections 2018, which was held on October 20, many of the current parliamentary representatives run for another term, but, contrary to popular belief, a number of them did not win votes in the preliminary results.
Reporterly in this report attempts to introduce six of the most prominent candidates.
Abdul Latif Pedram
Abdul Latif Pedram is a famous politician, writer, poet, journalist, leader of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan and a member of the Afghan lower house of parliament representing Badakhshan province.
He was born in Darwas district of Badakhshan province in Afghanistan in 1970 and has a master’s degree in Islamic studies from the Sorbonne University, Paris. He studied Persian literature at the Universities of Kabul and Tehran. Pedram also served as the director of the Hakim Naser Khisraw Library and Cultural Center. In the years of the war against the Soviet forces in its country, he fought on the cultural front of the resistance.
Mr. Pedram is the leader of a political party (the National Congress Party of Afghanistan), and he has twice been a presidential candidate, believing that Afghanistan has suffered from national crisis and sees federalism as the solution. He is also a vocal critic of the current administration in Kabul and is viewed highly as a Tajik nationalist.
He is currently representing Badakhshan in Wolesi Jirga and is a member of the Commission on Central Audit, General Accounts and Oversight for Law Implementation.
Humayon Humayon is a politician and first deputy speaker of Wolesi Jirga.
Humayon was born 1974, in Khost Province. He finished his primary education at Nazo Ana High School in Kabul province and completed his twelfth class certificate in Russia.
Mr. Homayoun, in 16th legislative term, came to the parliament as a representative of Khost people and was chairman of the Commission on Defense Affairs and Territorial Integrity, and twice was was elected as the first deputy speaker of the House of Representatives for the last two years. He has been controversial and has criticized President Ghani’s administration on a number of issues particularly corruption.
Mohammad Akbari, known as Ustad Akbari, is an Afghan Jihadi commander, politician and representative of Bamiyan people in Wolesi Jirga.
Mohammad Akbari completed his elementary religious studies at local religious schools in Panjab and Waras districts and his higher religious education in Qom and Najaf. In 1980 he was a Mujahideen leader from Bamian, a prominent Shia leader in Afghanistan and one of the founders of Hizb-e-Wahdat Islami party.
He is a member of the High Peace Council, the Council of Shia Ulema, and the Afghanistan Unity Council, which was established in 2005. Akbari has also been a member of the Afghanistan Islamic Brotherhood Council (Shura-e-Ukhowat Islami Afghanistan) since 2004.
Akbari was elected to parliament in 2005 with 24,475 votes – the highest vote-count in the province and one of the highest across the country – winning one of the four seats for Bamyan. He has been the representative of the Bamiyan people in the House of Representatives in 16th term as member of Commission on Nomads, Refugees and Social Affairs, Labor, Disabled, Martyrs’ and Widows Survivors
Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj
Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj is a politician, spokesperson for Gen. Dostum’s led Junbesh-e Islami party and representative of Faryab Province in the Afghan Parliament.
Mr. Tahyanj, was born in Andkhoi district, Faryab province, in 1974. He completed his secondary education at Abdu Muslim Andkhoi High School in the Andkhoi district of Faryab in 1991. He got his bachelor’s degree in Literature from Balkh University in 1995.
Previously, he was the Editor-in-Chief of monthly Uzbek publication “Yeshel Yepragh” (Green Page) (2006-2007), and he was also a member of the Provincial Council of Faryab province (4years). During this time, he held the post of Deputy head of the Council for two years. He also worked at deputy Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat with the Presidential Office.
Mr. Tahyanj has served a member of the Commission on Central Audit, General Accounts and Oversight for Law Implementation.
Sadiqi Zada Nili
Nasrallah Sadeghizadeh Nili is a politician and representative of the Daikundi people in the House of Representatives.
Nasrullah Sadiqi Zada Nili is the son of Mohammad Hussain Sadiqi Nili, and was born 1966 in Kajran District, Daikundi Province. Nili holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Sciences. He is the son of a very famous commander Sadiqi Nili who was assassinated in 1990s by an unknown gunman.
Nili was jihadi commander in charge of Nili district administration in the Mujahideen years. He was a member of the former Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami Afghanistan (when it was a single, unified party) and was active in the war against the Taliban.
Nili participated in the Emergency Loya Jirga in 2002 and the Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003. He then became Deputy Governor of Daikundi province, before standing for election to parliament in 2005.
He has represented the people of Daikundi province in the fifteenth and sixteenth terms of the House of Representatives. He bagged most votes in Wolesi Jirga Election 2005. In the 16th term, he serves as a member of Commission on Financial, Budget and Banks Affairs.
IEC Chief Abdulbadi Sayyad, in response to the IECC’s decision to invalidate the votes cast in Kabul’s parliamentary elections, says the decision has been made without any consultation with the Independent Election Commission.
The IEC chief, while addressing a press conference expressed the decision to invalidate Kabul votes is a “dishonor” to people’s will who cast their vote in the parliamentary elections despite challenges. He claimed that the IECC just came to a conclusion in this matter based on flimsy “Facebook reports”.
He also added that the IEC is the only source of decision-making in the matter of elections and that the vote counting process is still ongoing.
He said the commission will announce preliminary results of other provinces next week. It was announced earlier this week that results for Kabul will be declared by end of next week, but with the recent IECC decision, things are unsure now.
IEC in the controversy has since issued a declaration on the electoral complaints commission’s decision to invalidate Kabul votes, which declaration states that decision on Kabul votes is ‘illegal’ and aimed at damaging the electoral process.
IEC declaration says the Independent Election Commission rejects the decision of Electoral Complaints Commission on invalidating Kabul votes.
On Thursday morning, IECC’s Rohani declared that the commission has decided to declare the votes of Kabul’s parliamentary elections, invalid. Later in the day, it was also announced by IECC that several officials of IEC and provincial offices of IEC were dismissed as they had, according to IECC’s findings, ‘violated electoral laws”.
In response to the matter of dismissals, an IEC official remarked that the electoral complaints commission cannot suspend IEC employees in such a way.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the preliminary results of parliamentary elections for five provinces-Samangan, Nuristan, Maidan Wardak, Sar-e-Pul and Kunar-on Saturday.
The results are as follows.
IEC results show three men and one woman winning the seats in parliament from Samangan province:
Abdalullah Mohammadi wins with 9,604 votes
Hayatullah Samangani wins with 9,265 votes
Ziauddin Zia wins with 6,262 votes
Mahbooba Rahmat wins with 3,161 votes
Three men and two women have bagged seats in parliament from Maidan
Alhaj Abdul Ahmad Durrani wins with 7,731 votes
Abdul Rahman Wardak wins with 6,893 votes
Mohammad Mahdi Rasikh wins with 6,025 votes
Halima Askari wins with 3,219 votes
Hamida Akbari wins with 2,539 votes
Four men and one woman have secured seats in parliament from Sar-e-Pul:
Mohammad Akbar Sultanzada, wins with 9,328 votes
Assadullah Ayubi wins with 7,933 votes Sayed Mohammad Mohsin Sharifi Balkhabi wins with 7,825 votes
Alhaj Hamidullah Beg wins with 6,253 votes
Aziza Jales wins with 6,056 votes
According to IEC results, two men and one woman have won the seats in parliament from Kunar province:
Jawed Safi wins with 6,912 votes
Mawlawi Shahzada Shaheed wins with 6,312 votes
Nematullah Karyab wins with 6,246 votes
Wazhma Safi wins with 4,254 votes
Two candidates including one man and one woman have secured seats in parliament from Nuristan province:
Obaidullah Nuristani wins with 2,535 votes
Zahida Faizan wins with 675 votes.
The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on Thursday clarified that it has counted both biometric and non-biometric votes as valid while declaring the winners and losers of the October 20 parliamentary elections. “Voters list was the base, anyone who participated in the voter registration process whether their votes were biometric or without biometric, but their names were present on the list, their votes have been counted,” said Sayed Zabiullah Sadat, deputy spokesman for IEC.
This decision has received criticism from electoral monitoring organisations,
“Statistics and the reports which we have received from the provinces indicate that in some provinces, biometric was the base and in some provinces voter lists was the base while in some provinces contents inside the ballot boxes were the base and there was not a specific standard for recounting of the votes and there was multiplicity in the recounting of votes in the provinces,” as told by Mohammad Omid Nawrozi, member of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
Monitoring organisations believe that by counting all votes, IEC is violating its own laws and rules.
This comes after many political parties claim a lack of transparency in announcement of the preliminary election results.
As of now, the IEC has announced the preliminary results of 13 provinces.
The political parties argue that the results of votes in localities and provinces where biometric and non-biometric votes were blended will not be acceptable to them and it is unfair.
Officials from the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced on Monday November 19 that nearly 40 percent of the Afghan parliamentary votes had been counted.
Abdul Bade Sayyad, the head of the commission, speaking at a news conference in Kabul, said that the vote counting of 11 provinces has been completed so far. The votes of more than 200 stations in Kabul province have been audited and recounted, and also the vote counting for more than ten other provinces are being completed.
A number of provincial offices in the Baghlan, Paktia and Kunduz provinces are currently closed, and their emphasis is on ending the scenario of closing the offices of the election commission, Sayyad added.
As the delays in announcement of parliamentary results became prominent, it became directly proportional to protests by people.
The Afghan parliamentary elections were held on October 20 and subsequently, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) had announced that the initial results of these elections would be announced on November 10 and the final results would be announced on November 20. But after more than a month, the IEC failed to announce preliminary results. The new dates announced by the commission to announce the preliminary results are November 23 for provincial results and December 1 for capital results.
Meanwhile, a number of parliamentary candidates in Paktia, Baghlan, Kunduz and Badakhshan provinces have been protesting and stressing that the vote counting process is corrupt and not transparent.
But IEC officials say that the intervention of a number of parties and a congestion of electoral observers in the vote counting centres in IEC headquarters has led to the delay in the announcement of results.
“On Sunday, observers from a number of parties halted the process of recounting and auditing because of a dispute with a low-ranking commissioner,” Abdul Sayyad said at a news conference on Monday in Kabul. “Although the leadership of the electoral commissions ordered to resume, the observers of the parties did not pay attention and were provoking others to prevent the progress of work,” he added.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has also announced in a statement that a number of observers have gone beyond their jurisdiction and are attempting to exert more influence. The statement states that a number of parties have failed to take into account the principles and procedures of supervision by sending additional observers and, by provoking others, disrupting the audit and the recounting process.
Nevertheless, the commission officials have remarked that by continuing such a situation, the commission will not be able to announce the results in due time.
The intensification of electoral commission disputes
The Afghan Independent Election Complaints Commission once again announced on Monday (November 19) that votes without biometric are to be considered invalid. IECC has also dismissed 14 IEC staff members.
IECC Spokesman Alireza Rohani, stressed that after reviewing more than 10,000 electoral complaints, they invalidated the votes of 174 polling stations. According to him, after addressing these complaints, 14 IEC staff members have been dismissed, and 119 cases have been sent to the Attorney General Office for follow-up.
Earlier however, the two electoral commissions had agreed to validate the votes that were cast without biometrics, but IECC spokesman recently declared its invalidation, and insisted that announcing the election results with these votes would be unreliable.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission on the other hand believes that the Electoral Complaints Commission is acting beyond its “jurisdiction”.
“Some of the IECC commissioners intervene beyond their job descriptions, which is why the IEC does not allow them to interfere in our work at some points which are contrary to the job descriptions,” IEC commissioner Hafiz Hashemi commented.
However, a number of legal experts have argued that the invalidation of the ballots of different centers is very much within the jurisdiction of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC).
“This is one of the duties of the IECC- when to review or invalidate the votes. If the employees commit violations or offences, their dismissal is also the duty of the IECC, ” a legal expert, Abdul Wahid Farzaei, explained.
Lack of transparency in recounting votes
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), said on Monday November 19 that full recount of Kabul’s votes has continued with new employees, and this process has entered its sixth day.
Nevertheless, a number of election observer institutions consider the recounting process to be a superficial process and believe that principles to check transparency and impartiality are not being practiced or observed . According to them, in this process the clean and unclean votes are not separated, and only being recounted.
“The observer institutions assumed that the recounting process would be different from the first round of counting, and that the cases of fraud and suspicions would be seriously examined”, FEFA executive director, Yosuf Rashid stressed.
Mr Rashid also states: “Just like the first round, no signs of fraud are considered in this round. For example, as per the electoral procedure, if these ballots are not folded in accordance with the given procedure, they must be declared invalid, but in recounting process this is not taken into account. ”
FEFA officials, however, clarified that in the recounting process, they did not see any distinction between clean and unclean votes.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives points out that if the Independent Election Commission does not take transparency into account when recounting votes, then the election will not be acceptable to the people.
Second Deputy Speaker Amir Khan Yar, who chaired the general meeting on Monday November 19, stressed that transparency should be taken into account and that the initial results of the election should be announced at its given date.
“Our demand from the Independent Election Commission is to pay attention to transparency while recounting the votes, and to announce preliminary results at the given date”, he said.
The allegation of government interference
A number of Afghan political parties deduce that the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan is under political pressure from the government, which has caused delay in the announcement of election results.
In the meantime, Amrullah Saleh, former NDS chief insists that the parliamentarians are appointed by the ARG.
Mr. Saleh claims that people who close to Ashraf Ghani had told a number of parliamentary candidates that the final results of the election will be determined by them.
“A number of leading candidates have been called to come to the office of Salam Rahimi, president chief of staffs and Mr. Fazly, the advisor to president, Wazir Akbar Khan, & these people were told that they are going to be on the winners list if they sign a paper pledging loyalty to the president & future demands from his office. This practice must be stopped & any nexus between ARG and the office to the IEC staff be investigated”, Mr. Saleh expressed on social media.
Meanwhile, a number of Afghan election observer institutions insist that security forces directly intervened in the electoral process on election day and have not allowed the observers of these institutions to enter the polling stations.
“The security forces, in particular the ANP, stood by the voters on the election day and forced them to vote in favour of a particular candidate, for which reliable evidences are available,” said Soghra Saadat, TEFA spokesperson.
But officials in the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) clarified that the commission is under no political pressure.
“We can say with absolute confidence to the Afghan people that we will not accept any pressure,” Deputy Chief of IEC told Reporterly, “if the announcement of the results is delayed, the only reason is the technical problems, not the political pressures or any other allegations toward the commission. ”
Peace Talks and Election
In addition to announcing the results of the Afghan parliamentary election, the IEC is also preparing for holding the presidential election. The commission has declared April 20 as the date of the Afghan presidential elections but the Wall Street Journal earlier this month proclaimed in a report that delaying the Afghan presidential election is likely a prospect due to peace talks.
The newspaper quoted US diplomats as saying that another option in Afghanistan would be the formation of an interim government with the contribution of the Taliban.
But later, the government of Afghanistan and Washington officially denied these allegations, and both announced they are committed to hold the timely presidential election. But in Kabul, a number of political parties, while declaring their agreement to form the “interim government”, insisted that if such a government can bring permanent peace to Afghanistan, they will accept it.
Recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, expressed he hopes to reach a peace deal with the Taliban before the Afghan presidential elections next year.
Mr. Khalilzad, on Sunday November 18 told reporters in Kabul that he is ‘cautiously’ optimistic about peace talks with the Taliban.
Hamed Ahmadi contributed reporting.
Officials from the Afghan Independent Elections Commission (IEC) said at a news conference in Kabul on Monday 22nd October, that they have set up a national information gathering center in the commission and are collecting election data from across Afghanistan.
The IEC head, Abdul Bade Sayyad, said that the figures of the Sunday elections have not yet been counted and incorporated with the 4 million votes casted during the two days of elections across Afghanistan. He emphasized that the figures of second day votes will be announced along with the results of the Kandahar elections which is scheduled for Saturday next week.
The head of the Independent Elections Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) clarified that due to security threats, out of a total of 253 polling centers that should have opened on the second day of the election, the commission was able to open only 76 centers.
Meanwhile, according to elections commission officials, only voter information and figures forms have beeb transferred to the commission from provinces, not the ballot boxes. They emphasize that provincial figures have not yet come to the commission, but their staff are trying to get these reports and will soon announce the preliminary results of the election to the people of Afghanistan.
The head of the Independent Elections Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) said at a press conference: “We ensure that, as they [voters] trusted the commission and went to the polls, we will also protect their votes and not let their votes be wasted.”
Meanwhile, officials from the Elections Commission announced the formation of a special committee to investigate the negligence of the commission’s employees in holding the election and emphasized that employees who were complacent on elections day will be penalised according to the law.
Lack of Preparations
Officials from Afghan elections observer organizations say that their observer’s reports indicate of IEC not being prepared to hold parliamentary elections.
“Our observation shows that the management of election had some serious problems. The unhealthy management of the commission led to many failures on elections days. There were challenges in the opening phase, the use of biometric devices and the lack of a voter list. So, all this shows that the commission did not have the necessary preparations for parliamentary elections.” said Yousuf Rashid, the Executive Director of the Fair and Free Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
FEFA, while talking about the concerns that the citizens of Afghanistan faced before holding parliamentary elections and the “organized” and “widespread” frauds in the parliamentary election, believes that it could not be denied that a series of fraud cases had taken place in the election.
“The problems such as the late holding of the election and other challenges that took place on elections day somehow paved the way for fraud on election day.” Mr. Rashid added.
FEFA officials while talking about the polling centers functioning without the use of the biometric system, said that we cannot be careless about the votes of those who cast their votes amidst high security threats, and it is the Commission’s duty to assure people of transparency of these votes.
The meddling of government officials
However, Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the Afghan government, said on Monday at the Council of Ministers’ meeting, that there is evidence about some government officials spending a great deal of money and trying to promote their own men in the parliamentary elections.
Dr Abdullah said that despite the apprehensions of a number of parliamentary candidates, he has not sponsored anyone except for the spiritual support of the electoral process; but, according to him, this principle has not been respected by all (government officials).
Mr. Abdullah emphasized: “There is evidence that some government officials spent a great deal of money and tried to succeed their own men in the parliamentary elections, but it is our responsibility to protect the votes of citizens who have participated in the process amid dangerous threats.”
According to him, holding parliamentary elections at his appointed time is a step forward and a great success. He argued that, despite the dissatisfaction of people from the previous election, Afghan citizens have had widespread turnout in the ballot boxes and they have brought success to this national process.
5,500 Electoral Complaints Registered
The ECC also says that there were thousands of problems on elections day registered by the commission.
The spokesman for the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, Ali Reza Rohani, said 5,500 complaints were registered in the election, with 1,700 complaints from just Kabul city.
According to him, there was a delay in the opening of the centers on the second day of the election as well.
Mr. Rohani also added that the voters’ list was not complete at a number of polling centers, and there was not even a list at a number of other centers.
“In a number of places where people went to vote, the names of the huge number of voters were not in the lists. The complaint was forwarded to us continuously, “he said.
According to him, another problem that occurred on elections day was the lack of familiarity of the electoral staffs with biometrics.
He said that after investigating the complaints, the commission will decide on cases that have been filed.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Zia Rafat, a university professor, said that the handling of electoral complaints can affect the result of the elections.
A number of legal experts insist that Afghan parliamentary elections should not have been held in three days claiming that this is “unprecedented” in a democratic government, and that there is no legal justification for it.
Afghan parliamentary elections were scheduled to take place on Saturday 20 October throughout Afghanistan, but due to technical and security challenges, elections were not held at a number of polling centers, and the IEC announced that polls would continue at these centers the next day. Following a terrorist incident in Kandahar province 2 days prior to the elections, parliamentary elections were postponed until Saturday 27th October. The conduction of parliamentary elections in Ghazni province has been postponed until next spring, as according to Hamdullah Mohib, there have to be some constituency issues that need to be resolved first.
Mohammad Abdullah, a lawyer in Afghanistan, said: “The Election Commission violates the law, organizes the election for several days, and this does not have any legal justification.”
However, in the second paragraph of Article 84 of the Electoral Law, it is stated: “The head of the polling station is obliged, after the end of the specified hours, to indicate the voters’ queue and allow them to vote.”
The fourth paragraph of this article also emphasizes: “The Commission may, if necessary, extend the time limit for voting in one or more centers or constituencies, up to a maximum of two hours, or until the end of voting for those waiting in the queues.”
With this in mind, the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) has violated this article of the electoral law and illegally entered the second day.
Victims of Violence During Elections
Investigations from the Civilian Protection & Advocacy Group show that during the two days of the Afghan parliamentary elections, 61 civilians were killed across the country and 190 others were wounded, adding that some 193 violent incidents happened during the elections.
The head of the organization, Aziz Ahmad Tesel, said that the casualties were due to mortar and rocket attacks as well as planted explosives at some polling stations.
According to the Civilian Protection and Advocacy Group reports, Kabul, with 14 civilians killed and 37 wounded, has the highest numbers of civilian casualties in two days of parliamentary elections.
Also, seven civilians were killed and six others were wounded during the parliamentary election in Kunduz province, according to the Civil Protection Advocacy Group.
Mr. Tesel said that in Nangarhar province, six people were killed and 21 others wounded in three incidents during the two days of parliamentary elections. Three other security incidents in Kunar province killed three and injured three others.
According to the head of the Civilian Protection & Advocacy Group, civilian casualties have been reported in Herat, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Helmand, Balkh, Baghlan and Uruzgan provinces as a result of explosions and embedded mines.
“Taliban mainly to be blamed for these casualties”, he added.
More than 50 people were killed and injured in an electoral rally in Takhar province on 13th October, just a week before the Afghan parliamentary elections are to take place.
Security officials confirmed that the explosion took place in a candidate’s electoral campaign in Rostaq, Takhar province. The explosion, which was caused by explosives rigged in a motorcycle, targeted the elections campaign of parliamentary candidate Ms. Nazifa Yosufi. The Takhar police chief assured that the candidate had not been hurt.
“The explosion left 22 killed and 36 wounded,” the spokesman for Takhar province informed. He also added that “The enemy is waiting for an opportunity at any moment to harm the people, they managed exploit this opportunity during the election campaign of Ms. Nazifa Yosufi, which unfortunately claimed lives and wounded many. Although the security forces were stationed there, open space helped the insurgents to succeed. ”
With such attacks causing hesitation and fear among citizens, it seems that there is less optimism in terms of active and widespread participation of Takhar residents for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
However, local officials in the province have reported a high level of participation by women and men in the registration process. Speaking to Khabarnama, they said that the Takhar residents eagerly came to the centers to take part in the registration process. Although some were disappointed with the representatives of the previous period and did not register at first, they registered once they found out about the active participation of young people in electoral campaigns.
Out of a population of 1.3 million, 289178 people have registered themselves to cast vote for the parliamentary elections in Takhar.
“In Takhar, 60 percent men and 40 percent women have participated in the registration process,” said Jamshid Kondali, a local journalist of Takhar.
Takhar, with 73 parliamentary candidates competing (of which 12 are female candidates), can only send nine people to the House of Representatives.
Closed Centers and People’s Frustration with Previous Representatives
The Independent Elections Commission has set up 241 polling stations for the upcoming elections but some of these centers will remain closed.
“There are 247 centers where registration has taken place in and which are now open, but around 13 polling stations have been blocked due to the security problems in some areas. However, the registration process was conducted at these centers, and we are trying to prepare and open the centers for the voters until the election day “, the spokesman for the provincial governor told Khabarnama.
“Although Takhar saw a relatively good participation from the people in the registration process, many at first had shown no interest in the same because of their lack of trust in the representatives of the previous period. But after they saw new and young faces running for the elections, they started to participate, but sadly they realised a little late as the registration process was nearing its end,” said Zabihullah Ibrahimi, a civil society activist in Takhar.
The Security Impediment
According to Zabiullah Ibrahimi, along with the challenge mentioned above, the biggest problem in Takhar is security which is causing a rift in the electoral affairs as can be seen from some recent incidents that took place on Saturday. “The security challenge, which must be paid more attention to, took lives of 40 people on Saturday,” he added.
Local authorities in Takhar told Khabarnama that what is expected of the security situation is not feasible, and districts such as Eshkamesh, Darqad, Khajaghar, Yangi Qala, Dasht Qala,and Khaja Bahawuddin are under high security threats.
“Security in Afghanistan has always been one of the problems towards which many efforts have been made over the past several years toward to address it. Takhar is no exception, as an explosion occurred in an electoral rally of a candidate two days ago, leaving dozens dead and injured,” commented Jamshid Kondalli, a local correspondent in Takhar.
However, the Takhar governor’s spokesman told Khabarnama: “The insurgents’ attacks in any part of Afghanistan will have no effect on the decision and determination of the people of Afghanistan, and the government has taken measures to make the election transparent and secure.”
5 Districts Under High Security Alert
There are 17 districts in Takhar in addition to the center of the province, Taleqan. 90% of these areas are under the control of the government. However, some of these districts are also dominated by the insurgents.
“Five districts are facing high security threats. Only two out of 54 villages of Darqad district are under the government’s control. Additionally, half of Yangi Qala, Dasht Qaleh and Khwajah Bahauddin districts are controlled by the Taliban,” Takhar officials emphasized.
But Takhar governor spokesman, Jawad Hejri, denied the claim clarifying that there are no high security threats in these districts, and in fact there is a relatively good security in these areas.
Nevertheless, Takhar Police Chief, Abdul Rashid Bashir briefed Khabarnama about the security situation of elections in the province, “We have enforced our security measures and, in addition to deploying the police at all polling stations, we have designated a group that is mobile and which patrols the highway routes in 17 districts. ”
“We do not deny that there are security problems in some areas of Takhar, but we try to provide security to these areas with the greatest effort,” he said.
With 5 days to go before the Afghan parliamentary elections, the people are waiting for a transparent and comprehensive elections process. Despite the fact that out of 34 provinces, 33 provinces will witness elections, Ghazni is a province that has not yet been included in this year’s parliamentary elections, although electoral enthusiasm can be seen in other provinces.
It’s been several days since the campaign kicked off, and every candidate is doing their best to win the people’s trust in different areas. But what is more important nowadays is the deteriorating security situation which is making Afghans wary and concerned.
Maidan Wardak is one of the central provinces in Afghanistan in which right after the beginning of the electoral and voter registration processes, the people have actively tried to play their role in electing their representatives. But the security situation in this province indicates that holding the elections in this circumstance might be one of the hardest possible things to do.
On Tuesday, 9th Oct, 2018, the Taliban once again attacked Sayed Abad district in Maidan Wardak, as reported by local sources. Despite all odds, officials in the province seem to be satisfied with the popularity of the elections amongst people and according to them, the turnout in the process has been satisfactory.
Elections in Maidan Wardak
For the parliamentary campaign in Maidan Wardak, 40 candidates, including 9 women have taken part. For the province of 800,000 people, 5 people, including 2 women and 3 male, are going to be entering the Lower house of Afghanistan as people’s representatives.
According to the Independent Elections Commission’s report, 142,095 individuals had registered as voters in the province, and 100,391 of them constitute the men while 41,090 others are women. Out of the total number of registered voters, 614 are nomads.
But the governor’s spokesman told Khabarnama: “The electoral process is carried out in the interest of people in the province, and the total registrants are 162,932, including 615 nomads, 114,573 male and 47,775 female voters.”
Dr. Nematollah Wardak, a former provincial governor’s office caretaker, also told Khabarnama: “Based on the encouragement of tribal elders, the number of registrants has reached nearly 163,000, but women participation is still not substantive with the exception of three districts-1st part of Behsud, central Behsud and some parts of Jalrez.”
In Maidan Wardak, 157 polling centers were designated by IEC, but with the current security situation in the province, only 107 centers’ operation seems possible.
57 centers without voters’ registration
“Although people had a lot of enthusiasm for registration in the process, in some of the districts facing security challenges, the voter registration process had not taken place, and many people were not able to register in the process.” Mohammad Sardar Bakhtiari, a member of the Wardak Provincial Council, told Khabarnama.
“The voter registration process was conducted in three terms at the provincial level, districts and distanced areas within the province, and in general the people’s presence was good considering the current security situation,” the former provincial IEC chief told Khabarnama.
“The 157 polling centers in Maidan Wardak have been designated by the Central IEC office, 50 of which have been blocked by the Maidan Wardak Elections Commission since the beginning of the voter registration process, and now, 107 are presumed to be open on the election day.” He added. These (the closed ones) centers are located in Dai Mirdad , one in Nerkh and two further in Sayed Abad district.
The Security Calculations
Mohammad Sardar Bakhtiari, a member of Maidan Wardak Provincial Council pointed out that “Maidan Wardak is composed of 9 administrative parts; the safe areas of this province are Behsud Center; 1st and 2ndBehsud. A part from this, Dai Mirdad district is of good level of safty, and the security situation in the capital city is also good, but the security situation in Nirkh district, which is three to four kilometers from the center, is volatile. The same applies to Jeghato and Chak districts.”
However, the highways crossing this province also face security problems.
“Although people are eager to play their role in choosing their representatives for lower house on the elections day, they have been repressed as they observe the current security situation. After the collapse of Dai Mirdad and Sayed Abad district centers, the concerns regarding turnout in elections has increased.” said Abdul Qayoom Rastmal, a civil society activist in Maidan Wardak. He also added, “Taliban high security threat against Jeghato district reinforces their [people’s] concerns.”
According to him, the capital city and parts of Behsud districts are under the control of the security forces.
But considering the views of the local officials and civil activists in the province, the Governor’s spokesman Abdul Rahman Mangal responded by saying that, “On the security situation; Maidan Shahr, two districts of Jeghato and Dai Mirdad face high threats, but Seyed Abad, Chak, and Jalriz are among the districts with less security problems, and two other districts have no problems, which is Behesud’s center and the first Behsud.”
The spokesman added: “The enemy sporadically attacks some parts which leads to some problems as in the other provinces. We do have areas that are completely under the control of the enemy fighters.”
The spokesman stated that all plans and measures have been taken to hold transparent and inclusive elections in the province. “The provincial governor’s plans enforce some measures to be put into place by the security forces to run on Election Day,” he said.
Sar-e-Pul is one such province where some of the residents keenly await the day of election, despite the serious security situations. Following the previous reports of Khabarnama on parliamentary election in the provinces, this time the election conditions in Sar-e-Pul province have been evaluated.
According to the latest security reports from Sar-e-Pul, the security situation of the province in the eastern part of the center, as well as in four our districts is concerning, and these areas are subject to high security threats. Also, given that many polling stations are closed in the province, people do not have much hope of taking part in the election
Prospect of Elections in Sar-e-Pul
11 days remain until the elections day. The electoral competitions of 33 parliamentary candidates continue in Sar-e-Pul province, of which 4 are women. Five people will reach the Afghan parliament with the highest votes, one woman and four men.
According to the Central Statistics Organization, Sar-e-Pul has seven districts with a population of more than 700,000 but due to security problems, only around 100,000 people have participated in the voter registration process.
“The participation of people in the registration process was good despite the security threats and over 100,000 people have gotten registered,” said Zabiullah Amani, a spokesman to governor of Sar-e-Pul province.
According to a report from the official website of the IEC, the exact figures for Sar-e-Pul’s registered voters in the electoral process are 135,600, of whom 68,374 are male and 66,373 are female; and 853 are from the Kuchi community.
In Sar-e-Pul province, 149 polling centers were established by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC), but due to security concerns, 67 of them are blocked.
Distribution of Tazkiras (National ID Cards)
One of the problems that the local authorities in Sar-e-Pul province mentioned during the voter registration process was the distribution of the Tazkairas.
“Many people were keen on participating in the registration process and ready to have the tazkiras attached with stickers, but they faced problem in obtaining the Tazkiras,” said Gulab Tayebi, a civil society activist in Sar-e-Pul province.
He added: “There were a number of women who had Tazkira, but they were from other districts, therefore they had to go to the same districts, which was not possible. Some people did not even have a Tazkira, and they encountered problems in receiving the IDs in the districts they live, because the Civil Registration Office did not reach many areas and they did not distribute Tazkiras in these areas; therefore, many people, especially women, are now deprived of their rights to vote. Also, the limited time and resources, and negligence of the personnel of Civil Registration Office caused many people in these districts to not be involved in the registration process.”
“In the Tazkira distribution process, the serious problem was that many people, especially women, did not have Tazkira, and it began at the same time as the voter registration process started, and due to paucity of time, most people were unable to obtain Tazkira or register themselves as voters as per the complaints we have received from the villages and surrounding districts.” Aziz Ahmad Rasuli, the former provincial head of the Elections Commission in Sar-e-pul, told Khabarnama.
Kohistanant District in Control of Insurgents
The former head of the provincial Elections Commission in Sar-e-Pul province, while describing the participation of the people as impressive emphasized that the big test in the province is the security threat because of which the registration has not taken place in the Kohistanat district. There have been also a number of registration centers closed in districts such as in Sayyad and Suzma Qala.
He further noted that 17 polling centers were not open in the center of the province, and no registration took place in these areas. But in some other districts such as Balkhab which is one of the most stable districts in Sar-e-pul, the centers were opened and people vastly welcomed the registration process in cooperation with the security forces.
Gulab Tayebi also confirmed the dire security situation in Sar-e-Pul, adding that people in the province have difficulty in even traveling because the roads and highways are facing serious security hurdles.
“The security situation in all the provinces of Afghanistan is one of the challenges that has permanently disrupted the civilian and military activities in the country, but we do our best to secure the polling stations and create better conditions. “ Provincial police Chief, Abdul Qayyum Baqizi told Khabarnama.
Aziz Ahmad Rasuli said in this respect: “In Sar-e-Pul province, 149 polling centers were evaluated by the IEC, out of which, the registration process was carried out in 82 of them and 67 other centers were blocked due to security threats in which registration did not take place.”
Spokesman for Sar-e-Pul Governor also said: “Out of the 149 designated centers, 63 centers have been under high-security threats and no one has been registered in these areas; 15 centers have partial security and voters are registered in some areas; and other 71 other centers have been active and are ready for the Election Day. ”
Balkhab District and Irresponsible Armed Individuals
The provincial governor’s spokesman, Zabiullah Amani, said that the province is also threatened by an irresponsible armed individual, saying that a person named “Mahdi Mojahed” has caused disturbance in electoral campaigns in Balkhab district.
“The man closed the electoral campaign, he tore up the posters of the candidates and warned that no one could hold elections in the district,” he added.
The spokesman for the governor of Sar-e-Pul added: “This irresponsible armed man was an ordinary citizen of the province of Sar-e-Pul who had only recently taken such acts, although local elders are trying to dissuade him from doing so; this was also reported to the central authorities and we await an action to be ordered by the central security authorities towards the Sar-e-Pul local authorities. Now, according to a direction given to local authorities, the matter is being investigated.”
But the Sar-e-Pul Police Chief told Khabarnama: “In some districts and areas we face ethnic problems, and the Mahdi Mujahid’s matter is one of those cases. We cannot arrest him because of ethnic considerations, however this is being discussed with the local and provincial council members, parliamentarians and security officials at the capital Kabul, and we are anticipating an action in this regard; if there were no ethnic issues, the security forces could arrest him in a few minutes and deliver him to the authorities.”
The Deteriorating Security Situation
The former head of the Elections Commission in Sar-e-Pul province, said, “Not only have the security threats in Sar-e-Pul have not been reduced, but they have heavily increased. As four active registration centers were closed in Sayyad district, after the end of the registration process, and during my duty in that province, I witnessed the collapse of two other districts. ”
“The biggest challenge now is the security barrier to the electoral process-security threats prevail, and people are trying to provide the security in the polling stations with the help of security forces,” he added.
“The efforts of security forces in the province are not enough, and more air and ground forces should be deployed to this province so that security could be provided with wider operations,” he added.
Gulab Tayebi told Khabarnama: “Even though security authorities have assured the people and officials that they can secure the polling stations, Sar-e-Pul still remains one of the most dangerous provinces in the northern zone, which is expected to fall at any moment.”
He went on to say that all people are disappointed with the elections by looking at the situation and hesitate whether or not to participate in the elections day.
However, discussing the security of elections in the province, Abdul Qayyum Baqizai, provincial police chief stressed that, “we are trying to stop the insurgents and control the districts by carrying out heavy operations. Also, with security measures scheduled for the day of election, we can ensure that the elections will take place in the province with the least challenges.”
Herat, the foremost province in western Afghanistan, and one of the country’s cultural and economic hubs, is soon going to face parliamentary elections. Local authorities in the province are struggling to hold a transparent election, amidst all the security concerns and electoral challenges haunting the province.
According to an interview with local authorities of Herat, the province is undergoing serious problems can make it hard and even impossible to hold the elections.
Herat has 161 candidates, 28 of whom are women. Only 17 candidates with the highest votes qualify to enter the House of Representatives.
Elections in Herat
A civil society activist in Herat province, Sayed Wase Sayedi told Khabarnama that the voter registration process in the province ended well despite all the challenges. There were many people in the districts as well who are willing to register themselves for the election.
Herat has recorded more than 3 million population in recent years, out of which about 1 million is eligible to vote, and only 500,000 still, have registered as voters.
According to an IEC report, 539,141 people from Herat province have participated in the registration process, of whom 297,391 are men, 239,818 women. 1932 are estimated to be nomads (Kuchis).
Despite the figures reported by Independent Elections Commission (IEC), the head of the Provincial Elections Commission in Herat, Ahmad Shah Qanuni, told Khabarnama that 500,570 people from the province participated in the registration process, out of which approximately 45 percent are women.
According to the head of the Herat Election Commission, in some areas of the province where polling stations were blocked, people were not able to participate in the registration process.
He added that some polling stations belonging to areas where the registration process had been carried out also may remain closed due to high security threats.
Mr. Qanuni added: “462 polling centers have been established in the province with 300 active centers, and the remaining centers are closed because they are outside the reach of government forces. It is likely that these centers will remain blocked on Election Day and people will not be able to participate in the election. ”
Temporary and Duplicate Tazkiras
The former head of the Herat Civil Society Organizations, Ahmad Shafiq Behruzian, who is now a candidate for the upcoming elections, told Khabarnama: “At the beginning of the registration process in the province, despite the problems, people’s participation seemed robust. However, due to the lack of precise planning by the IEC and the government, the grounds for fraud in the province have been created. Because the Commission initially authorized the sticker attachment on the copy of the tazkira, a number of people used copies with stickers attached in multiple registration centers.”
Many people from different parts of Herat could get multiple temporary tazkiras which were easily accessible from tazkira distribution centers and subsequently had them get attached by electoral stickers.
The good thing in this elections cycle is that there will be no additional ballot papers that will be issued to polling station. The ballot paper issued will thus, be corroborated according to the recorded figure of Tazkiras and stickers distributed in the registration centers.
AFG 2.2 Million Expenditure Cap per Candidate
Another problem that has been noted by officials and citizens of Herat is the violation of the electoral laws.
According to the law designated by the IEC, for each province, based on the population of that particular province, a ceiling on total campaign expenditure for candidates has been set, which in Herat is AFG 2.2 million per candidate. But in this province, it seems that every parliamentary candidate is spending the same amount on a daily basis committing an electoral offense in accordance with the election law.
“Along with the technical and security problems in Herat province, another challenge is that the candidates are not behaving professionally. They are not dealing with the political, legal and social issues with mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, which causes disruption and dispute among the candidates. Any candidate does not let others to organize a campaign in their area by creating nuisance.”
Security a Concern Depriving People the Right to Vote
Herat is one of those provinces where security problems pose as one of the serious challenges. These challenges have had the greatest impact on the electoral activities and programs in the province.
In some areas of Herat such as Shindand, Keshak-e-RobatSangi, Keshk-e-Kohna, Farsi and other districts which are far from the center of the province, there has been a critical security situation that has caused residents of these districts to not participate in the registration process.
Responding to such problems, Herat governor spokesman, Jailani Farhad, told Khabarnama that serious security problems are prevalent in five or six districts of the province, and they are trying to eliminate these security threats.
“In some places, such as the Shindand, Golran and Farsi districts, due to poor security, people were unable to participate in the registration process,” head of the Herat Provincial Election Commission, told Khabarnama.
Civil society activist, Seyed Wase Sayedi also noted that during the registration process, “the Taliban cut off fingers of two persons. They wanted to take part in the elections, and in some areas people were still threatened against participating in the process due to the fear of murder or physical violence. “
In the recent past, there were two explosions that had taken place in Herat province, one near the election commission, and another that targeted a police ranger with a magnetic mine in Darwaz-e-Khoshk area.
A Taliban-Approved Candidate
The Head of Provincial Council, Kamran Alizai told Khabarnama that security is one of the major issues in the province. For example, in Kohsan district, the offices of candidates have been targeted.
On the other hand, he also reminds that, after 6 pm the provision of telecommunications services is restricted and most of the networks do not operate, which itself is a security concern.
The former Herat civil society network director, Ahmad Shafiq Behruzian, also emphasized in his speeches that what the Herat citizens are most concerned about is the Taliban and the security situation because the Taliban have threatened people in some areas and did have not let them even register for the process. Therefore, many people are deprived of the right to vote.
“The Taliban have declared in some areas that they have no objection with holding elections, unless people vote for the candidate that they back,” he added, “The Taliban have put a fear of violence in people’s heads if the people do not vote for the Taliban-backed candidate”
In confirmation of the above remarks, Herat governor spokesman, Jailani Farhad also told Khabarnama: “We have not yet received any report if the Taliban have infiltrated and gotten involved in electoral affairs, but it is possible that in the distant areas where the security forces have less access, insurgents are trying to support a particular person for the elections. But this does not mean that these challenges will prevent the election.”
“People’s enthusiasm for the election and their participation in the registration process shows that there is no serious hurdle in this province, and we are committed to pave the way for the citizens of Herat province, and the people have also demonstrated their readiness to participate in the elections.
On the other hand, civil society activist, Sayed Wase Sayedi emphasized that the security challenge lie not only in Herat province, but in many other provinces of the country. However, in Herat no one can move around without the official authorization from security officials on the elections day.
Laghman province is one of the 33 provinces in Afghanistan in which, the security forces are trying to ensure the security of the province so that its residents can come to the polling stations and vote in all areas.
Although the province faces security threats as well as cases of electoral fraud, local authorities have been trying to hold the parliamentary election on 20 October without any hiccups by using propermeasures and programs.
The eastern province of the country has a population of 1 million, but it has had the least participation in the registration process. On the other hand, Laghman has 33 parliamentary candidates, out of which only 4 will be elected.
There are a number of different figures provided by the local officials regarding the registered voters.
The participation of people in the process of voter registration reaches 170,840 people in Laghman, according to Nooruddin Fetrat, who has been recently appointed as the head of Laghman Provincial Election Commission.
But Laghman’s provincial police chief, in a conversation with Khabarnama expressed, “170,469 people participated in the registration process out of which 1 individual was from the Sikh community and 4,730 people from Kuchi community.”
“The participation of people in the registration process went so well, there were not any considerable problems, and 170,000 voters got registered,” said Laghman Police spokesman, Asadullah Dawlatzai.
However, the statistics reported by the election commission show different figures: 163,708 voters got registered in the province, of which 52,999 are women, and 119,780 other men are men.
Security the Biggest Hurdle
Laghman MP, Naqibullah Mohib, told Khabarnama that there were no serious problems during the voter registrations and distribution of Tazkira in the province, and the only problem was the lack of security in some areas of the province: “Laghman also has security problems which the security forces are seeking to resolve. ” he said.
“There are indeed some security problems.There have been threats from the insurgents in the province warning that they will not allow the elections to be held, and a number of polling stations are blocked. ” he added.
Mr. Mohib noted that the polling stations located along the asphalted roads where the government can reach in Alingar and Alisheng districts are active, issues such as the closure of polling stations, are likely to happen in these areas as well.
According to Mr Mohib, on the election day, the only area where people can go and vote is Mehtarlam city, which lies at the center of Baghlan, and Qarghai district.
But in response to these claims, Laghman Police Chief Abdul Rauf Urozgani, said that no serious problem in Laghman province will threaten the election: “Security problems are an issue everywhere in Afghanistan and we will try to eliminate them.”
However, citizens of Laghman province haveexpressed that the security situation in the province is rather alarming: “No candidate can freely hold their programs and meetings, and they need to take care of their own security so that they can mitigate any threats from the insurgents.”
The citizens count the security challenges as one of the main reasons why people in densely populated areas of the province did not have a significant participation in the voter registration process.
The districts of Alingar, Alisheng, Dawlatshah and other areas of Laghman are under high security alert, and in these areas, only 50% of the voter registration process has been conducted.
18 Centers Blocked
According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), 123 polling stations have been allotted for Laghman province, but local authorities say that only 79 centers have beenestablished in the province, of which 61 are open and ready for election, and 18 other centers are closed and under the control of armed insurgents.
But the head of the Laghman Provincial Election Commission told Khabarnama that according to the report of IEC, 123 polling stations in this province have been established out of which, 79 are active centers. In areas such as Dawlatshah, Alisheng and Alingar,the voter registration process has been carried out partially because some areas in these districts have been in the control of armed opposition.
Laghman MP, Naqibullah Mohib, informed Khabarnama that the registration process has not been carried out in all districts of the province, except for the center of Laghman and one other district with tight security.
“Altogether, there are 79 polling stations in the province, based on IEC assessment in the districts, 61 stations are open and face no problem, but 18 other stations are under security threats,” Laghman Police Chief, Abdul Rauf Urozgani, said during an interview with Khabarnama.
The Police Chief has ensured that they will try to make those 18 other polling stations operational on election day, while according to the head of the Laghman Election Commission, Nooruddin Fitrat, the voter registration itself has not taken place in the areas where the centers were closed.
The head of the Provincial Commission for the Election Commission in Laghman said: “Apart from the security problem, there is no other problem in this province. The election commission staffs have been selected through an entrance exam, and other staff will be appointed from amongst the school teachers.”
“All the electoral resources have reached Laghman and the balloting will be carried out using biometric devices. We confirm that we have received these devices as well.”
The process of voter registration in each province of Afghanistan is full of challenges and problems. Security which is one such problem, has made the electoral process in insecure provinces to be one of the most challenging segments of the elections that are to take place on 20th October 2018. A lack of participation in the election has raised questions about its inclusivity and generality.
Farah, which has repeatedly witnessed massive insurgents’ attacks, is one of the provinces with the lowest voter registration. According to Farah officials, the process of voters’ registration is carried out only in the central part of the province, and elsewhere it is in control of the insurgents.
Low Voter Registration in Farah
“The process of registering and tagging stickers to Tazkeras (Afghan ID cards) has been completed, but what was expected in this province did not take place,” said Dadullah Qane, a member of the Farah Provincial Council. “The province faces meagre security measures and few people have participated in the registration because many areas in Farah province are controlled by the insurgents and the central government is not paying much attention to this area.”
Meanwhile, the voter registration process in Farah province coincided with the collapse of the center of the province for the second time. This made Farah authorities neglect the process of registering voters which in turn ended up in the closure of all voter registration centers in Farah.
“Two reasons have led the Farah province to have the lowest voter registration rates,” said Baryalai Ghaffari, director of the Civil Society Organization Network of Farah province, “First, Farah province is one of the most insecure provinces in the country, in which there are clashes going on day and night. The registration process in the province did not go well, as it simultaneously coincided with the fall of the province, and for 15 days, all polling stations were blocked. ”
According to him, after Farah province was regained by the government, the opportunity was not given again to the citizens of this province to execute the registration process.
Mr. Ghaffari pointed out to the second reason behind the low number of voters in Farah: “The second reason was the people’s lack of awareness of the voter registration process; the election commission did not provide people with enough information about the electoral process. These shortcomings have caused a large number of people in Farah to forego registration. ”
According to the director of Farah Civil Society Organizations Network, the process of registering voters was conducted only in few parts of Farah province. However, the spokesman for the governor of Farah, Mohammad Naser Mehri has denied this by saying that the registration process has been carried out in all parts of Farah province, except for Parchaman district.
Candidates and Citizens of Farah
There would be 5 representatives in the Afghan parliament for Farah province, out of which, 1 female and 4 male candidates would be elected. In the third round of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, 42 people candidates are going to compete for the House of Representatives from Farah Province, of whom 3 are women.
Farah is also one of the provinces where women, despite the difficult circumstances, have shown interest in the voter registration process. In Farah Province, with a population of 1.2 million, only 66,321 voters have registered, of which 23,645 are women.
Provincial Officials are citing the reason behind the lack of registration of voters as the displacement of Farah’s Residents after the fall of the province and the blockade of all polling centers in the districts.
The director of Civil Society Organizations in Farah province told Khabarnama that except for the center, which is in the hands of the government, the rest of the Farah province is not controlled by the security forces and there was no voter registration process conducted in these areas.
But in response to this, the spokesman for the provincial governor, Mohammad Naser Mehri reminded that in order to participate in the upcoming elections,Tazkera distribution and sticker tagging centers were established, except for the Porchaman district which is under the control of the armed opposition. According to him, in other districts where polling stations were blocked, this process was carried out in cooperation with the people and the security forces.
However, Farah civil society activists also told Khabarnama about the process of distributing the Tazkera: “There was no problem in the distribution of the Tazkera, because the candidates placed the Central Statistics staff in their offices to ensure the distribution of Tazkera to all the residents. However, we think that there was also some fraud there because each person could have easily achieved as many Tazkira as he wants. Due to this, the transparency of the upcoming elections has been questioned. ”
43 Polling Centers
According to the Independent Election Commission in Farah province, the number of established centers for the voting day and the registration process amounts to 224.According to the director of Civil Society Organizations Network in Farah, Baryalai Ghaffari, only 70 of the centers were open and it is still unknown how many of them are open after the fall of Farah.
However, Mr Mehri announced that currently 43 voter centers are active in the province, and security authorities are trying to reach more areas and that is possible to open more centers on elections day.
However, some members of the Farah Provincial Council informed Khabarnama that with the current security scenario in Farah, it’s possible that up to 20 percent of Farah’s citizens would not be able to participate on elections day.
Insurgents at the Gates of the City
The director of Farah Civil Society Organizations says that there are insurgents in a radius of 4 to 6 kilometers from the center of the province, and the rest of the area is also in the hands of the insurgents. At the center, only the district and the provincial compound are under the control of the government to the extent that district mayors of Farah province do not go to these areas at all. In Farah, only ANP, ANA, police commanders, and a handful number of employees are practically present while other institutions do not have any authority or operations.
But Mohammad Naser Mehri told Khabarnama that, “The security situation in Farah province has been deteriorating only recently and the insurgents have carried out strikes in Farah province. It is unknown whether the opposition is located a few kilometers to the center, or up to 8-12 kilometers, far from Farah center. We are not sure up till what distance the center of province is surrounded by armed opponents. ”
The Impending Challenge
From the point of view of the authorities in Farah, the biggest elections challenge in the province is the security and potential fraud, which makes people less likely to participate as voters on elections day. People have become wary of voting because of the neglect that the province has faced at the hands of the central government. Another plausible reason for a seemingly low voter turnout might be the presence of perilous opposition at various entry points of the cities.
However, the spokesman for Farah province has reiterated the preventive measures that are taken by the provincial governor and police commander, “There is currently no serious problem, the security authorities have taken their measures and are trying to clear more areas so that everyone can participate in the election process. In other districts, there is no serious problem, except for the district of Porchaman, in which the insurgents are ruling, and clearing the area requires a long-term plan and more troops, but we are also trying to make the district of Porchaman available to the government.”
President Ghani has allocated 100 million Afghanis to implement development projects and 5 thousand tons of wheat to the province of Faryab on Sunday. In a meeting with Faryab Province officials in Kabul, the President declared that more aid will be provided in various development areas and better security measures would be enforced in the province.
After the meeting at Arg, Governor of Faryab, Naqibullah Fayeq, talked to Khabarnama, about grave challenges that volatile province has been facing. While referring to a long-drawn drought in Faryab he said, “The drought in Faryab province has caused many citizens to suffer and had also claimed the livestock.”
According to him, the drought has caused 16,000 families to migrate to the center of the province. It also caused 80 percent of its farmers their agricultural products, and compelled them to reside in the central city of Maimana in Faryab.
The Governor of Fayrab has predicted that that winter this year in Faryab province would be one of the harshest winters of the last 40 years because of food security concerns. Many sick children and mothers might not get enough food and this may lead to deaths in the region.
According to Mr. Fayeq, despite the fact that the aid provided by the government agencies has been effective for the citizens of Faryab, it is still inadequate for all residents of this province.
In addition to the drought problem in Faryab, security challenges have also been a cause of concern in the city, alerting the authorities and citizens in the province.
In such a situation, the people of Faryab are encouraged to go to the ballot stations and cast their vote for a better future.
2,00,000 Voters in a Population of 2 Million
In the coming election of October 20, which is only 19 days away, 62 candidates will compete in Faryab Province to reach the House of Representatives, of which 19 are women.
The share of parliamentary seats from Faryab province is 9, of whom three must be women. Meanwhile, only 200,000 voters registered in Faryab province, of which 90,000 are women. The total estimated population of the province stands at 2 million which makes the total number of registered voters count as only 10% of the Faryab demographic. This comes while in the last elections held in 2014 for the president, 5,00,000 voters had registered.
Given the recent situation in Faryab and the deteriorating security situation, many parts of the province have been deprived of the registration process.
“The reason for the low participation of people in the registration process in Faryab can be attributed to the lack of security which the security forces have failed to provide to the people” said Amanullah Faryabi, head of the Faryab Provincial Election Commission. The security forces were able to cover 80 percent of the voter registration centers in Faryab, and the remaining centers were blocked since the beginning of the process. “
“Faryab is the province with one of the lowest population participation rate this year, considering the population of Faryab Province and the people’s participation in the previous rounds,” Naqibullah Fayeq, governor of Faryab commented. This may be due to two reasons: one is that the process was not well-informed, and people are not well aware of the election registration, and the other is the lack of security. Faryab is a kind of province most of whose areas are controlled by Taliban, making them out of the government’s reach. “
Behruz Roozbeh, the deputy director of Faryab Civil Society Organizations Network, also told Khabarnama: “The participation of people in voter registration in Maymana was considerable. In this area, the worrying challenge that exist is security, since so many areas are under the control of the Taliban. The biggest concern is that they will not be able to open the polling stations in all areas and that the election may be subject to fraudulent practices. “
People Wary of Election Day Due to Abysmal Security
In the recent past, Faryab has had a serious security situation, and the Taliban have advanced to the gates of the cities. During this time, people have witnessed the fall of some particular areas of Faryab every other day. Faryab security officials say that they have succeeded in waging war from inner parts to the outside of the city and that they have been clearing residential areas from insurgents.
But, according to Behruz Roozbeh, deputy director of the Faryab Civil Society Organization Network, several districts such as Belcheragh, are fully controlled by the Taliban and lie outside the control of the government.
Mr Roozbeh has said that concerns about security threats in the province poses as one of the biggest challenges in Faryab ahead of the elections, because the majority of the province is in the hands of the Taliban and there are relatively fewer areas under the control of the security forces.
“There have been a lot of meetings to take serious measures, but at district level only the district center is in the hands of the security forces, and these forces do not have access to the remote villages. Most of the security measures are enforced in the Maymana city,” he added.
In response to this, the governor of Faryab told Khabarnama: “We admit that only the districts’ centers are under our control.”
According to an inquiry by Khabarnama, the majority of the population in the province is in Maimana city, in which people have participated in registration process. Four districts of Andkhuy too have the largest population, and have seen many people getting registered. But most of the areas in the other districts such as Almar, Qaisar and Garziwan are dominated by Taliban insurgents; other district such as Belcheragh and Ghormach have also fallen. In these parts of Faryab province, no polling centers have been opened and the registration process has not been carried out.
“In ShirinTagab, Dawlatabad and Khwaja Sabzpush districts, the registration process has not started and no one has been registered in the villages of these districts,” said Haji Mohammad Hashim, Faryab MP.
But the head of the Faryab Election Commission has told Khabarnama that only in Lulash district have the registration centers been closed, and that in the rest of the district, most of the people have participated in the registration process.
However, contrary to what the head of provincial office of the election commission in Faryab has claimed, 238 polling centers have been established in Faryab and more than 50 percent are in the hands of the security forces.
At the same time, Naqibulah Fayeq talked about launch of a new clean-up operation: “Four days later, cleanup operations in more areas will be carried out in the province, with which we hope to take more centers under our control,” he said.
Security or Fraud
In addition to the security problems in Faryab, one of the concerns of the authorities in the province is the possibility of fraud and the lack of central government control over the registration process.
“There was no actual presence of the central government in the province which might have led to suspicious and fraudulent practices by some powerful people when Tazkeras were being distributed and stickers were being tagged,” Faryab Governor said.
But he also added: “We have tried to resolve the problems of this province and now there seems to be no issue in the electoral program because it is now managed in a manner that we that can make the whole process transparent..Because there is no parallel government in this province, and none of theprovincial authorities would intervene in the election, the election commission would maintain its independence. “
Behruz Roozbeh, however, claims to the contrary: “In the process of distributing the Tazkara, many Tazkera forms were relocated by powerful people and distributed illegally, and there were also fictitious people who were tagged with a sticker on their Tazkeras.”
“There are many challenges in Faryab; voters’ registration, distribution of duplicate Tazkeras, tagging stickers on fake Tazkeras are some of the problems that stare at the upcoming election beside security threats” Mohammad Arif Molayi, a member of Faryab provincial council, said.
Nonetheless, a member of the House of Representatives from Faryab , Muhammad Hashim, believes that the issues of security and transparency are the biggest matters that need to be tackled in the upcoming election. He hopes that the biometric system will allow some transparency in these elections.
As IEC announced the arrival of a final batch of biometric kits on coming Thursday, as it seems that the electoral watchdog has begun its tough work on the upcoming elections for parliament.
Last week, the IEC began to train 250 of its personnel in the usage of biometric devices and the training was completed in 3 days. The trained personnel are now supposed to train provincial IEC workers as and when all the biometric kits arrive in Afghanistan.
Not just this, the IEC has also issued a stern warning to those who intend on or have submitted multiple registrations as voters. The IEC has already cracked down on more than half a million fake tazkeras (Afghanistan National ID Cards) and today issued a warning stating that if any individual is found to have registered twice as a voter, there will be a fine charged of up to 100,000 Afghanis.
There was considerable controversy surrounding the use of biometric devices in the parliamentary elections and with a lot of pressure from the opposition, the IEC made sure it carries out its operations to mellow down all the doubt it has been receiving.
The commission has also begun to approve voters list for provinces and it announced that has so far completed approval of 19 provinces’ voter’s list.
However, IEC is not the only body that is working hard. With the electoral complaints commission (IECC) working efficiently towards addressing complaints with respect to the elections, it seems that Afghan parliamentary elections might come to their own after all.