Abdul Badi Sayyad, chairman of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on Sunday said that the proposal to implement a biometric system for voters in the upcoming elections was put to the government almost a year ago but that the government has finally rejected the proposal.
During TOLOnews’ election debate, broadcast live on Sunday night, Sayyad said: “Based on the election law, it should have been approved by the government fourteen months ago, unfortunately, a positive response was not given during this period.”
This comes a day after the fifth round of meetings between the IEC, political parties and the government ended in a stalemate.
Political parties met with government on Sunday over the upcoming elections, but the trilateral meeting ended in a stalemate.
“The meeting ended in a stalemate after government’s proposal to introduce a biometric system for presidential elections next year, and not for parliamentary elections in October, was rejected. Political parties refused to accept this and said they would protest the move,” a source familiar with the talks told TOLOnews on Sunday.
Representing government at the meeting was Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, who chaired the meeting, representatives from Central Statistics and Tazkera departments, a presidential advisor and an advisor to the CEO. IEC representatives also attended. Political parties including Hizb-e-Islami, Jamiat, Hizb-e-Wahadat Islami, Mahaz-e-Milli & Afghan Millat were also there, said the source.
“We hope that the meetings will continue, we have little time before elections; it is difficult to implement these recommendations at this time,” said IEC commissioner Sayed Hafiz Hashemi.
When asked on Sunday night about the IEC capacity to implement the biometric plan, Sayyad added: “We are prepared now, but in view of the timeline, any company can come, but it is a technical issue and they must coordinate this with our technical staff.”
At the debate, the IEC chief however announced the commission’s strong will to conduct the elections on time, but Anwarul Haq Ahadi, chairman of the New National Front Party of Afghanistan accused the government and the IEC of having no will to hold free, fair and transparent polls.
“The government did not have the will to use a biometric system in the elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bashir Ahmad Tayyanj, spokesman for National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan has also called on the international community to take action against possible fraud in the elections.
“We must realize that the process they are supporting could face a crisis ahead, we must prevent it now,” he said.
Although the presidential palace (ARG) has not yet commented on the assertions by the IEC, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has said that there are serious concerns among the Afghan people and the political parties about issues that could affect transparency in the elections.
“There are a lot of questions among the people and the political parties and all want the elections to be held in a transparent way,” said Abdullah.
The political parties have been calling for changes to be brought to the electoral system, the suspension of the voter registration process, rolling out a biometric system for voter registration and declaring each province a single constituency.
But on Monday night, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said in a statement that President Ashraf Ghani is in full support of the recommendations and plans which have been tabled by the political parties.
“President Ashraf Ghani held a consultative meeting with the representatives of the registered political parties of the country including Hamidullah Hamdar, head of the political committee of Hizb-e-Adalat, Mia Gul Khalid, deputy head of Hizb-e-Milli Mutahid, Moeen Gul Samkanai, chairman Hizb-e-Haq Wa Adalat and Dr. Sayed Ahmad Shekeb Muntazari, head of Hizb-e-Nahzat Milligaray Afghanistan and discussions were held about various issues including the elections, peace, ceasefire, military and civil reforms,” read the statement.
The political parties outlined a number of recommendations relating to the timely and transparent elections, support to the reforms, war on corruption, the issue of land grabbers and lawbreakers, dissolution of illegal armed groups, security of offices of the political parties, financial support to political parties, equal shares of the political parties in the security sector, equal treatment of the political parties, resolution on the crisis in the country through legal and diplomatic channels, peace and security and providing a monitoring role to the political parties in the elections in line with the law, added the statement.
According to the statement, Ghani expressed willingness to work with the political parties.
Ghani said that no one will be allowed to interfere in the elections.
Ghani has also said that efforts are underway for another ceasefire during Eid.