The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee has raised concerns over the arbitrary nature of electoral operation in Afghanistan for the upcoming elections on October 20th.
The panel members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs issued a statement saying “Elections are fundamentally intended to be a process through which people can select their decision-makers. Candidates must not be excluded from running based on unclear grounds.”
The statement also added that covert nature of elections in Afghanistan must stop as it has made many candidates unable to contest in the elections some of whom are well-known civil society activists like Fawzia Koofi, “The closed-door process in Afghanistan that has barred a number of candidates for election, including the well-known human rights activist Fawzia Koofi, a former Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU).”
According to the panel of OSCE PA’s committee, the candidates who were deemed disqualified were not even given a fair chance to address their allegations and prove themselves against such claims. Depriving the candidates of the right to defend themselves render the electoral process as far from transparent, as per the committee officials.
Finally, it was expressed that such arbitrary practices need to be checked and stopped otherwise the trust in the system, as well as the electoral process of Afghanistan, is at the risk of getting deteriorated.
This comes after the Independent Election Complaint Commission (IECC) of Afghanistan in August disqualified 35 candidates from running in the elections. Among these barred candidates were some strong names like lawmaker from the capital Kabul Mawlawi Tarakhail, former secretary of the Independent Election Commission Ziaulhaq Amarkhail, Hezb-e-Islami party’s Zardad Faryadi, renowned female lawmaker Fawzia Koofi, and local commander in Takhar province Bashir Qanet.
Abdul Basir Fayez, an IECC commissioner said that the body had made a special committee to investigate the links of candidates with any illegal or terrorist activities. But Mr Fauez cleared that allegations against as many as 141 candidates were cleared on the investigation.
But this move has met with tough criticism from candidates, supporters as well as political parties. With the observation put forward by OSCE PA’s human rights committee, it seems that the matter is of a far more serious concern than expected.