News - Election 2014
Former Independent Election Commission (IEC) Secretariat Chief Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail boarded a flight for the United Arab Emirates on Monday evening. His unimpeded departure received harsh criticism from those who believe Mr. Amarkhail should be present to answer for the accusations of fraud that have been filed against him, and if found guilty, suffer the consequences.
An official source within the IEC, who spoke to TOLOnews on condition of anonymity, said that Amarkhail left Kabul on Monday evening, around 7 p.m. on a flight bound for Dubai.
Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team had asked President Hamid Karzai and the Attorney General's Office to block Amarkhail from leaving the country while he is under investigation for electoral fraud. Abdullah's team have labeled his departure an "escape".
Yet the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has assured that any complaints related to him will be addressed even in his absence.
Over a week ago, the Abdullah campaign team started publicly releasing supposed audio recordings showing Amarkhail coordinating plans for ballot stuffing during the runoff with members of the Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai team as well as local officials in a number of provinces. Amarkhail quickly resigned from his post at the IEC, though he did so while denying the veracity of the accusations against him.
Election observers expressed hope that the investigations into Amarkhail's alleged actions would continue, but said they are concerned about verifying the voices in the audio recordings without him being present.
"We hope that this issue will be followed up," Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) Spokesman Fahim Naeemi said. "If they are not in Afghanistan, then that will be a problem as they are one side of the issue. The voices that were heard are claimed to be him (Amarkhail) and during the reviews he needs to be present in Afghanistan."
Election officials have assured that Amarkhail's departure will not have any impact on the reviews of the complaints against him. "If Mr. Amarkhail has left the country, we will address the complaints filed against him with the ECC," ECC spokesman Nader Mohseni said.
The release of the audio tapes has been one part of a broader disruption in the election process over the past couple weeks surrounding claims from the Abdullah camp regarding fraud during the runoff.
Abdullah supporters have on a number of occasions taken to the streets in major cities around the country to protest the fraud they believe took place.
However, as of now, the election commissions are moving forward with the process as planned, looking to bring Abdullah back into the process as soon as possible.