Claims of Intervention by Government Officials in Parliamentary Elections: Will the IEC present a Satisfactory Result to the People?
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.
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