Election monitoring organizations said the IEC’s lack of capacity has given the government an excuse to consider delaying elections.
Watchdogs Skeptical as Afghanistan’s Poll Timeline Looms
Pressure is increasing on Afghanistan’s political leaders from election watchdogs and members of the public to end the ongoing stalemate regarding progress in holding elections on time.
According to critics and election watchdogs, the Afghan government is not committed to keeping to the election deadline.
They also lashed out at members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) over what they said was a lack of capacity in the IEC to put pressure on government to respond to its recommendations and plans.
They said the IEC’s lack of capacity has given the government an excuse to sideline the poll timeline.
Watchdogs argue that the lack of capacity among election commission members has provided government with a reason to neglect the election process.
In response to the allegations, IEC operational deputy chief Wasima Badghisi has said that the election watchdogs must increase pressure on government so it responds positively to the recommendations and plans of the IEC instead of just lodging criticism against IEC members.
IEC financial and administrative deputy head Mazaaullah Dawlati on Monday said government is not responding to the commission’s official letters regarding the outline of electoral constituencies.
Dawlati said the commission drafted an outline to decrease the size of constituencies and sent this to the presidential palace 10 months ago, and that it has sent subsequent letters, but government has so far not responded to them.
“In case we do not get a response in this matter, then we will be forced to take action according to the situation and the conditions and every province will be considered a single constituency like in the past,” said Badghisi.
“Unfortunately, there is still not a strong political will to bring reforms and conduct the elections transparently,” senator Mohammad Alam Ezedyar said.
“According to my information, they are thinking about postponing the elections and extending the tenure of the presidency which is totally unacceptable,” said ousted governor of Balkh Atta Mohammad Noor.
Based on the IEC’s new plan, election constituencies will be considered for provinces on the basis of their population and seats in parliament and the cabinet must either approve or reject the plan.
“The plans have been taken hostage, people are kept in confusion, election constituencies are not determined,” said Yusuf Rashid, CEO of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan.
“It is better that the election watchdogs divert their concentration on the government so that the government accepts the formation of a committee and responds to the constituency plans,” said Badghisi.
Referring to the appointment of a new IEC secretariat head, Badghisi said that the fate of the post will be determined in a month.
The election commission has scheduled parliamentary and district council elections for July 7 of this year, but said government should respond to the commission about the constituency proposal at least six months before elections.
President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah had pledged to bring about systematic reforms in Afghanistan’s election system. But critics say that the two officials have not delivered on their promise so far.