With less than a week to go for elections, there have been concerns rounding up that journalists in provinces might not be given access to the polling stations. Shedding their stance on this matter, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) have asked the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to guarantee media access to polling stations on election day.
According to provincial journalists, the IEC had refused to distribute ‘coverage cards’ for the elections and further investigations by AIJA found that it was true. In addition, it was also discovered that IEC officials had behaved irrationally with local media by asking the journalists to go all the way to IEC office in Kabul to get their cards.
The IFJ released a statement in this regard: “Attempts to block the media from covering the upcoming elections in Afghanistan raise serious concerns about the access to information and transparency of the election processes and voting. The Independent Election Commission needs to take immediate steps to ensure journalists and media across Afghanistan have easy access to cover the elections.”
As Afghanistan sees elections within a week, almost every credible organisation and stakeholders from the civil society members, to United Nations have called on government and IEC to make sure that the elections in Afghanistan happen in a fair and transparent way.
Concerns have been raised regarding several matters like the security of voters and political supports and candidates, observer for monitoring elections, and even biometric devices. Journalist access to the polling station on election day becomes a crucial step to ensure that elections are being held in an honest manner.