Presidential candidate Ahmad Wali Massoud on Wednesday said that President Ashraf Ghani is trying to manipulate the elections so that he can remain in power for another term.
Addressing a gathering of his supporters in Kabul, Massoud said the people have been kept away from key issues around peace and elections.
“You are fully aware that over the past year, the government has tried to continue its campaign in all corners of Afghanistan by exploiting the national assets... He [President Ghani] has put all people’s problems aside and is conducting a campaign so that he can return for another term,” said Massoud.
“They [government officials] are distributing money [to the people] when they visit provinces. They collect stickers and signatures in every corner they go. They ask people to promise. They [government officials] appoint their favorites who are ready to commit fraud [in the elections],” Massoud said.
Massoud’s running mate for first vice president, Farida Mohmand, said the incumbent government is “exploiting” the youths.
“The national unity government promotes ethnic and racial issues among the youth which is totally in contrast to the ideology of the young generation,” she said.
Massoud stated that the Council of Presidential Candidates will soon announce their position on the elections if the government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) fail to ensure transparency of the election process.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, said in a statement that the United States expects all candidates to refrain from using government resources in elections and respect the law.
“We expect all the candidates, whether they are currently in government positions or not, to refrain from trying to use government resources, whether that's money, whether that's the power to appoint people, whether that's simply going about their business in ways that is intended to benefit their campaign,” Bass said.
“We expect to see everyone respect Afghan law, and we expect that because the Afghan people expect that,” he said.
He also said that the US pleased the election budget has finally been finalized which enabled the United States to provide up to $29 million to support operations.
“Conduct of the elections will also be funding independently Afghan domestic observers efforts so people have confidence in the way the election is conducted and in the results,” he added.
He mentioned that there are many more steps the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the relevant ministries need to take to ensure elections occur when scheduled.
“We need to see the additional staff hired and trained by the commission. We need to see the voters' lists published,” Bass said, adding that “We all need to see the finalization of procurement and training on the biometric verification devices.”
The US envoy noted that it is important that the electoral commission is communicating with the public about its activities.
The election commission has estimated the budget at around $149 million.
The Afghan government has pledged to pay $90 million of the budget.