A number of Afghanistan’s major political parties and movements on Tuesday accused government of planning a “massive fraud and vote rigging” in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for October 20.
The parties also claimed that government wants to have its favorite in the parliament.
The political parties threatened to close offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) unless their demand for the use of biometric system for the polls is met by the National Unity Government.
“Government is now planning fraud in the elections so that it can send its representatives to the house of representatives. It wants those representatives in the parliament who would serve government so that it can apply its orders in line with its demands,” said Ahmad Zia Massoud, CEO of the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan, a coalition of over 30 political parties and movements.
“Biometric system is good and it is acceptable. This is not a big problem. Some companies have told us that biometric is possible even on the election day, but government is making excuses in this respect,” said Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Chairman of the New National Front of Afghanistan.
But in retaliation to the closure of the IEC offices, government has said that the move by the political parties is against the national interests of Afghanistan, violation of the rights of the Afghan citizens and an irrelevant interference against the interests of the people.
“The closure of the IEC offices by any group is a move against the national interests and a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country and the Constitution and it is an illogical interference against democracy,” said Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, who addressed a gathering in Kabul on Tuesday.
“With the same biometric issue that has been raised by the citizens of Afghanistan which is also evaluated as a solution, one portion of the concerns of the citizens of Afghanistan, specifically the political institutions’ concerns, should be resolved,” said Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto said at the UN Security Council on Monday that the closure of IEC offices is threatening the timely elections in the country.
“Operationally and technically, the preparations are on track. Yet I remain very concerned that political challenges could jeopardize the tight timelines and derail the elections unless all political leaders engage constructively and peacefully to ensure that elections are held on time. Security is also a serious concern,” said Yamamoto.
On the concerns among politicians about the elections, he said: “Many opposition parties remain sceptical about that number, citing both security concerns that would have prevented many people from registering and alleging fraud. Several safeguards for the verification of the voters list and fraud prevention measures are being put in place. Despite these measures, scepticism remains”
The UN envoy said that the closure of IEC offices by the political parties will jeopardize the holding of elections on the specific time.
Over the last few days, supporters of a coalition of political parties started to block several provincial election commissions demanding that additional safeguards be put in place. These actions hinder the work of the IEC and jeopardize the holding of the elections on time. Political concerns must be addressed through institutional mechanisms and not through blockades.
This comes at a time that over the past few days supporters of the political parties, mainly the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan, closed the IEC offices in Balkh, Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces, insisting that the government must assure that biometric system is used in the elections.
Reacting to the closure of the IEC offices, the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said on Monday at the Council of Ministers meeting that there was concern over the closure of electoral commission offices in a number of provinces.
Abdullah said that closing of electoral offices will not help with transparency in the elections.
President Ashraf Ghani said a while back that the main demand of the parties was the use of technology in elections – an issue that has now been addressed.