Senate Criticised for Rejecting Foreign Commissioners
 
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Lawmakers and Afghanistan's election watchdog on Thursday lashed out the Upper House decision to reject having two foreign commissioners on the board of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) warning that the 2014 presidential election has a higher risk of fraud.

As the Senate decision was welcomed by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), lawmakers scoffed at the notion that the presence of the two foreigners at the ECC violates national sovereignty.

"If the presence of these two internationals is a violation of our national sovereignty then we have had no national sovereignty in the past ten years," MP Ghulam Farooq Majrooh said Thursday.

Parliament in October approved the new election law which allowed for two foreign commissioners at the ECC, but President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly opposed the foreign commissioners as an affront to Afghanistan's self-government.

The Senate this week rejected the election law clause allowing for foreign commissioners, but approved the law's remaining 35 articles.

The Senate rejection did not come as a surprise because many of the senators have been appointed by Karzai himself.

"It was expected that the Senate would oppose the presence of these two internationals because most of the [Upper House] members are appointed and support the view of the president," executive director of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan Jandad Spinghar told TOLOnews.

However the Senate has dismissed this accusation.

"The only senators that haven't opposed it are the appointed [by Karzai] ones. Many other senators are against the presence of these two international at the Independent Election Commission," said Senate Deputy Chief Mohammed Alam Izadyar.

The IEC has previously said it does not have an opinion on the matter and the decision rests with the government. Today, it said it supported the Senate vote.

"We support the decision of the Senate. We see it as a fine step," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammed Noor told TOLOnews.

Some MPs have said that those who oppose having foreigners at the ECC are not willing to have a transparent and fair election.

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