Electoral Deadlock in Ghazni: A Compromise with Laws?

The Second Vice President, Sarwar Danish, has called on the people and elders of Ghazni province to submit a joint plan for the parliamentary elections in the province after consultations and negotiations.

At a meeting with First Deputy of Chief Executive, Engineer Mohammad Khan, Ghazni’s elders, representatives of IEC and the government representatives, Mr. Danish had spoken about how parliamentary elections in Ghazni province is to be held. This was confirmed by a statement from the press office of the Second Vice President.

Mr. Danish said at the meeting that the government is responsible for holding the elections and it is the citizens’ right to appoint their representatives to the National Assembly. But he asked the residents of Ghazni to make a call onhow the issues faced by the province with respect to the elections have to be solved. .

He stressed that the delay in the parliamentary elections in Ghazni province is by no means acceptable, and that the people of Ghazni should submit their plans for holding the elections with constant coherence and solidarity.

More than a week back, President Ghani during his second visit to Ghazni,had also called on the people to give the government a specific proposition to hold parliamentary election.

A delegation of elders from Ghazni province, now in Kabul, is scheduled to go to the province to provide initial grounds for conducting coordination sessions on how to conduct the elections.

IEC: Difficult to Organise Elections in Ghazni

The Independent Election Commission officials insist that they have no technical and tangible facilities to hold elections in Ghazni at the moment and that they cannot hold the election in the province at the same time as other provinces.

IEC Deputy spokesman, Aziz Ebrahimi, says that the provincial office of the commission has been burnt in Ghazni’s recent conflict, and now they have no physical and technical preparation to hold the election in the province.

IEC Officials say the commission did its best to hold the Ghazni elections timely, as it did in other provinces, but their efforts did not have any positive results.

The electoral challenges in Ghazni began when a group of protesters, claiming that they do not have any representative in parliament, closed the gates of the provincial election commission from the beginning of the voter registration process. However, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Afghan government, after a two-month delay, decided to exclude the province and proposed a  zone-based election in Ghazni, contrary to the electoral law, just to ensure the presence of representatives of all ethnic groups in Ghazni. After the IEC’s decision was made, another group protested against the decision, and this time they blocked the gates of the provincial election commission.

Finally, conforming to Article 104 of the Electoral Law, the IEC proposed the postponement of the parliamentary elections in Ghazni province to the Special Electoral Committee.

The IEC officials say that the case is on the table at the special election committee which the Security Council is also part of, and the final decision has not been made yet. On the other hand, President Ghani emphasized in his recent visit to Ghazni that he has not yet accepted the decision of the IEC on the Ghazni election.

IEC Officials say the commission did its best to hold the Ghazni elections timely, as in other provinces, but their efforts did not have any positive results.

An Electoral Crisis

A number of electoral observation institutions insist that the government is trying to indirectly intervene in Ghazni’s elections and might be trying to create an electoral crisis in the province.

“Technically, elections in Ghazni province can be held very simply, but unfortunately, controversial nature of the politics there has  made it difficult to hold the election in the province. The main problem facing the election process in Ghazni is the policies and the will of the government. Indirect efforts are made to sabotage the elections in Ghazni.” said Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, the head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA).

Mr. Ayubzada emphasized that the elections in this province have become nearly impossible to be organized because of the lack of willingness and different excuses by the government and the election commission.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) emphasize that if the elections are not held in Ghazni, a major ethnic-political crisis will take place in the province.

Furthermore, in July of the current year, Rasad News Agency released an evidence that the Afghan presidency has bribed Millions from preventing the IEC from opposing the zone-based election of Ghazni.

According to the report, following an order, the Afghan President has allocated 11.4 million AFN for allowance and extra expenses incurred by the the IEC head and members.

Naeem Ayubzada, Head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)

The documents indicate that this amount is separate from the amount of 37,590,000 Afghani which had already been budgeted by the Ministry of Finance for the salaries and privileges of members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

However, according to the IEC’s proposal letter to the president, the total salaries and privileges of the members of the commission amounted to 48,990,000 Afghanis. On an average, the  monthly salary and privilege amounting to 500,000 Afghanis for each member of the commission and about 600,000 AFN for the IEC head has been considered.

Holding a Compromised Election

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke  to the people of the province during a recent visit to Ghazni to inform that the parliament is incomplete without Ghazni’s representation, and that the government is trying to provide the province with a ground to hold the election.

Mr. Ghani called on the elders of Ghazni to come to an agreement on the elections in the province and to share their plans with the second vice president, Sarwar Daneish, and Engineer Mohammad Khan, the first vice president of the Chief Executive.

Nonetheless, a number of Ghazni civil society activists and opponents of the zone-based election believe that the government has disregarded the law,  and has attempted to create divisions by passing the onus of the compromise on Ghazni elections to the Ghazni elders.

A civil society activist and one of the opponents of the zone-based election, Bashir Ali Shafaq, told Khabarnama, “If the election mechanism is set in an expedient and compromising manner, and the electoral law is not duly followed, and since holding an election is impossible in Pashtun-residing districts of Ghazni, they  [the government] will try  put forward the direct appointments plan. ”

However, a supporter of Ghazni’s zone-based election plan, Abdul Bari Sholgari pointed out his perspective  to Khabarnama: “Our main demand is that, alongside the Hazara-residing districts, 14 other districts should have their representatives in parliament. Now that the government is in charge to come up with a solution on how to clear the grounds for all the residents of Ghazni so that they can send their representatives to the National Assembly. Our proposal is that the selection of representatives should be based on the appointments. “

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AliSher Shahir is a reporter for Reporterly and is based in Kabul.

Alisher Shahir

AliSher Shahir is a reporter for Reporterly and is based in Kabul.

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