The IEC secretary said the team will investigate claims around the unlawful transfer of election materials and seizure of material by tribal elders.
IEC To Probe Paktia Election Process ‘Irregularities’
The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on Wednesday said it plans to send a delegation to Paktia to investigate reports of IEC employees having broken election laws.
Documents seen by TOLOnews indicate that records from voter registration centers in the province have been transferred illegally to the provincial head office.
Based on the procedures of the IEC, and the election law, the transfer of election material from one voter registration center to another is prohibited.
The documents seen by TOLOnews also reveal that one person has signed in the place of several others.
When asked for comment, the IEC acknowledged that the transfer of records from one office to another was against the law. They said the commission will investigate the report.
Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) said that the process of filing complaints against the voter registration process is in full swing.
IEC secretary Sayed Hafiz Hashemi also confirmed an investigation team would look into reports of records being transferred illegally in Paktia.
He said that the team will also assess claims that a vehicle loaded with election material had been stopped and seized by tribal elders.
“The people were facing problems regarding the distribution of ID cards, because the cards were not being distributed, there was some confusion and they stopped a vehicle; but the problem was resolved today (Wednesday) without any problems and the election materials were transferred to the commission’s office. The commission has also assigned a team to investigate the issue and to find out why such issues are being reported in Paktia,” said Hashemi.
“The majority of the complaints are filed about the lack of centers in some places, complaints were also recorded about the lack of stickers at some centers and complaints about security threats,” said Mohammad Reza Rouhani, secretary of the IECC.
Meanwhile, officials from the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) have accused the Paktia local government of interfering in the electoral process.
“Sensitive materials had been supplied in Mirzaka district, but were seized forcibly and other officials also meddled (in the process), therefore, the local government should come out in support of the people,” said FEFA member Ehsanullah Hamidi.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) meanwhile confirmed the tribal elders had handed over the election material once police stepped in.
“Police held talks with the tribal elders in Mirzaka district about the election materials and the issue was resolved,” said MoI spokesman Najib Danish.
The IEC statistics show that so far more than 8.9 million people have registered to vote since April 14. Of this number, 394,840 people registered in Paktia to vote in the October 20 parliamentary and district council elections.
Paktia governor’s spokesman Abdullah Hasrat meanwhile rejected claims of interference in IEC affairs, saying that no one will be allowed to interfere in the commission’s activities.
Up To 600 Complaints Registered So far
The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission said it has registered at least 600 complaints against the voter registration process and against candidates who are hoping to run for parliament in the October 20 elections.
Rouhani told TOLOnews on Tuesday that some complaints were also filed against candidates who have links with illegal armed groups and that a special commission will investigate these allegations.
If complaints against the candidates are found to be legitimate and true, he said, their names will be dropped from the list.
IEC Extends Voter Registration Process
The IEC said on Wednesday that the leadership of the commission has decided to extend the voter registration process in some provinces, from 11-18 July, in order to ensure that all eligible Afghans have registered to vote.
A list published by the IEC on its social media platforms show the names of 18 provinces including Kandahar, Nuristan, Nangarhar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Badghis, Logar, Helmand, Faryab, Samangan, Balkh, Kunduz, Paktia, Khost, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Takhar and Herat where the process will be extended.
The list shows 109 centers in which the voter registration will be carried out for one week. The reason, the commission says, is that the areas faced security threats therefore the process was extended to ensure the process has covered all people in the regions.